Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry Matter

Lawyers representing the Guyana Trades Union Congress at the Walter Rodney Commission have submitted a ’request for particulars and directions’.

The late Walter Rodney

The late Walter Rodney

As you know I continue to represent the Guyana Trades Union Congress in this Inquiry. I have some concerns and I believe they should be articulated very early in the process so that the appropriate information could be collected and brought to the Commission and appropriate notice provided to the respective entities.

The Terms of Reference specifically calls for the Commission to look into the conduct and professionalism (or the lack thereof) of state actors from the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana National Service, the Guyana People’s Militia, there is no state counsel representing any of the joint services or are there any counsel representing the state. While the Commission has reminded us at the commencement of the Commission of Inquiry that potential witnesses “have nothing to fear from testifying. No prosecution can follow from your testimony”, it does not follow that civil proceedings cannot be initiated and/or international proceedings. See, for example, Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act ( S.C. 2000, c. 24) and Song Dae Ri (Re) 2003 CarswellNat 4527; (2004) 36 Imm. L.R. (3d) 203.

Read full letter submitted to Commission

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20 responses to “Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry Matter

  1. Pingback: Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry Matter – Black In Barbados

  2. Trying to understand why state actors should be immune from prosecution.

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  3. 14 African Countries Forced by France to Pay Colonial Tax For the Benefits of Slavery and Colonization.

    Read this article.
    Walter Rodney warned us how Europe underdeveloped Africa & the third world.

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  4. jeff Cumberbatch

    David, they are not IMMUNE from prosecution as such. It is just that none of what they say in their testimony that might be incriminating may be used against them in a subsequent trial.

    The equivalent Barbados provision follows;

    Protection of witnesses
    13.(1)
    A witness before an investigatory commission is entitled to the same immunities and privileges as a witness before the High Court.
    (2)No evidence given by a witness to an investigatory commission may be used against him in any subsequent trial or in any criminal or civil proceedings other than a prosecution for perjury in giving that evidence.
    (3)No claim of privilege on the ground of self-incrimination shall be allowed where under subsection (2) the evidence of the witness could not subsequently be used against him.

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  5. @Jeff

    Thanks for the clarification, recall this same issue arose in the CL Financial Inquiry where the Prosecutor wanted the Commissioner to NOT call certain witnesses which he felt may have compromised a criminal action. The issue comes back to what is the real objective of the Walter Rodney Commission if as many believe it is the state actors who were complicit in certain crimes.

    On 31 May 2014 12:20, Barbados Underground wrote:

    >

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  6. France is quite desperate but active to keep a strong hold on his colonies what ever the cost, no matter what.
    In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac said:
    “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power”

    Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand already prophesied in 1957 that:
     ”Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century”

    At this very moment I’m writing this article, 14 african countries are obliged by France, through a colonial pact, to put 85% of their foreign reserve into France central bank under French minister of Finance control. Until now, 2014, Togo and about 13 other african countries still have to pay colonial debt to France. African leaders who refuse are killed or victim of coup. Those who obey are supported and rewarded by France with lavish lifestyle while their people endure extreme poverty, and desperation.

    Read more:
    France Colonial Taxes Continue to Improvish African Countries.

    Walter Rodney warned us.

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  7. 14 African Countries Forced by France to Pay Colonial Tax For the Benefits of Slavery and Colonization.

    Read this article.

    ” ..France is not ready to move from that colonial system which puts about 500 billions dollars from Africa to its treasury year in year out.”

    W.Rodney warned us.

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  8. WILL FRANCE REPAY HER EX-COLONIES 400BN$ ANY TIME SOON?
    Mind you this  figure is only estimated since the French have never given a proper accounting to the owners,namely Cameroon,Senegal,Niger,Burkina Faso,Congo Republic,Guinea,Cote de Ivoire,Mali,Djibouti,Benin,Togo,Gabon,Mauritania and the CAR.
    In what must be the most egregious lopsided economic agreements in history the ‘independence’ leaders of these countries allowed  a deal whereby they deposit the equivalent of 85% of their annual reserves in these accounts as a matter of post-colonial agreements and have never been given an accounting for how much the French are holding on their behalf, in what have these funds been invested, and what profit or loss there have been. The French have been acquiring and holding the national reserves of 14 countries since 1961. Even allowing for losses and expenditures in keeping the CFA franc viable, the French are holding about at least 400 billion dollars of African money, wholly unaccountably to the money’s putative owners, the African states.
     All these nations were grouped under the CFA franc according to the pacte coloniale which also  enshrined a special preference for France in the political, commercial and defence processes in the African countries. France was allowed to have pre-deployed troops in Africa; in other words, French army units present permanently and by rotation in bases and military facilities in Africa; run entirely by the French (and, incidentally, paid for by the Africans). In summary, the colonial pact maintained the French control over the economies of the African states; it took possession of their foreign currency reserves; it controlled the strategic raw materials of the country; it stationed troops in the country with the right of free passage; it demanded that all military equipment be acquired from France; it took over the training of the police and army; it required that French businesses be allowed to maintain monopoly enterprises in key areas (water, electricity, ports, transport, energy, etc.). France not only set limits on the imports of a range of items from outside the franc zone but also set minimum quantities of imports from France. These treaties are still in force and operation today.

    Walter Rodney warned us a long time ago.

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  9. Anon said:
    “In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac said:
    “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power”

    And about damn time, evil sons of bitches, the same can also be said for all the other countries in Europe including England.

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  10. ” Sylvanus Olympio [1], the first president of the Republic of Togo, a tiny country in west Africa, found a middle ground solution with the French.

    He didn’t want his country to continue to be a french dominion, therefore he refused to sign the colonisation continuation pact De Gaule [2] proposed, but agree to pay an annual debt to France for the so called benefits Togo got from french colonization.

    It was the only conditions for the French not to destroy the country before leaving. However, the amount estimated by France was so big that the reimbursement of the so called “colonial debt” was close to 40% of the country budget in 1963.

    The financial situation of the newly independent Togo was very unstable, so in order to get out the situation, Olympio decided to get out the french colonial money FCFA (the franc for french african colonies), and issue the country own currency.

    On January 13, 1963, three days after he started printing his country own currency, a squad of illiterate soldiers backed by France killed the first elected president of newly independent Africa. Olympio was killed by an ex French Foreign Legionnaire army sergeant called Etienne Gnassingbe [3] who supposedly received a bounty of $612 from the local French embassy for the hit man job.

    Olympio’s dream was to build an independent and self-sufficient and self-reliant country. But the French didn’t like the idea.”

    Read more:
    France Forces Africa to Pay for Colonialism
    Mawuna Remarque Koutonin .

    This above helps to confirm what Walter Rodney was saying back in the 70’s.

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  11. Famine-Stricken Niger Feeds French Development and Wealth
    Finian CUNNINGHAM 14.11.2013 12:00

    ” Niger has a land area twice the size of France, with a population of only 17 million – a quarter of France’s. Much of the Sahelian country is arid and hostile to agriculture. But given its relatively small population, Niger should be a wealthy nation owing to its other vast natural resources. 

    It is the world’s fifth top producer of uranium ore – after Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia and Russia. Niger has also other mineral riches, including gold, iron ore, molybdenum, tin, salt, gypsum and phosphates – and what are reckoned to be huge untapped oil and gas reserves. 

    Yet despite all this natural wealth, Niger is officially the poorest country on Earth. According to the United Nations Human Development Index for 2012, it is ranked the lowest out of 186 nations. 

    The explanation for this anomaly is that Niger’s chronic condition of underdevelopment, poverty and hunger is a result of politics – French politics to be precise. 

    Like many other African countries, Niger gained official independence from France in 1960. But, as with other former colonies, its newfound «freedom» soon proved to be illusory. 

    For the past six decades, Niger has been kept enslaved under the French monetary system known as the «African Franc». The currency was imposed on more than a dozen former French colonies, including Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, Mali and Niger, as a condition for their political «independence». 

    Paris dictates that all member countries must deposit their annual revenues with the French Treasury, from which the former colonies can draw down borrowing – but they are charged financial interest for this dubious «privilege». Meanwhile, the French government allows itself to use this African money to invest in its own companies – interest free. 

    France also unilaterally determines the exchange rate for the African Franc against the Euro and other international currencies. 

    In this way, France has been able to continue its rapacious exploitation of Africa as if it were back in the colonial heyday of the 19th and early 20th Centuries – only now under the politically correct guise of «independent nations».

    The financial and economic looting of Africa means that resources are extracted at the lowest cost to France, which can then export products back to its former colonies at the highest price. The upshot is that Africa is caught in a poverty trap of underdevelopment and hunger – as we are witnessing now in Niger – even though the continent has some of the most abundant resources on Earth.”

    Tears Flow for Mother Africa

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  12. Interesting how Africa and predominantly Black countries are minipulated by the imperialist. But it is all good to get the protection of the mother country.

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  13. 1806: US Places Embargo on Trade with Haiti  
    Fearful that the Haitian revolution might inspire enslaved Africans in other parts of the world to rebel, US Congress bans trade with Haiti joining French and Spanish boycotts. The embargoes cripple Haiti’s economy, already weakened by 12 years of civil war. The embargo will be renewed in 1807 and 1809. [DUNKEL, 1994] The embargo is accompanied by a threat of recolonization and re-enslavement if Haiti fails to compensate France for losses incurred when French plantation owners lost access to Haiti’s slave labor. [NEWSDAY, 12/3/2003; MIAMI HERALD, 12/18/2003; BOSTON GLOBE, 1/4/2004]
    Entity Tags: US Congress
    Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005).

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  14. 1825: France Recognizes Haiti in Return for Massive Compensation  
    Haiti is forced to pay 150 million gold francs to France to “compensate” French plantation slave-owners for their “financial losses.” The amount demanded by the French represents more than twice the value of the entire country’s net worth. In exchange, France agrees to recognize Haiti’s independence. Years later, the amount is reduced to 90 million gold francs, however it will take Haiti close to 100 years to pay off this debt and only with the help of high interest loans to French banks. [ROGOZINSKI, 1992; NEWSDAY, 12/3/2003; MIAMI HERALD, 12/18/2003; BOSTON GLOBE, 1/4/2004]
    Timeline Tags: US-Haiti (1804-2005)

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  15. I will boycott the Rodney Commission of Inquiry

    March 23, 2014 | By KNews | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

    Everything about the evolution and shape of the Walter Rodney Commission is wrong. The human rights community, the anti-dictatorship society, the independent media, independent commentators, trade unions and the opposition parties will be disappointed. As for the opposition parties, they can clearly see what is coming.

    The PNC has to be crazy to participate. The inquiry will turn out to be an inquisition against the PNC. If critical minds like David Granger (he is a bright academic) cannot see what the intentions were behind the shape from the beginning, then he opens for questioning his leadership qualities.

    Before APNU or the PNC decides on giving evidence, I will urge the PNC leader to consult far and wide. The list includes past stalwarts like Haslyn Parris and people like Aubrey Norton, Vincent Alexander etc.

    First, the Guyana Government consulted the Rodney family only. This was suspect from the beginning. A commission into the death of a national hero should not be determined only by what the family wants. Rodney was a national figure who belonged to a national movement.

    Just as the ANC was consulted on the affairs of Mandela, the Government should have dialogued with the WPA on the nature of the commission. It did not.

    It was stated by the Government in the press that the Rodney family objected to the WPA being consulted. The family has not denied this to date. If so, the family was unreasonable and unfair. Rodney was great, but the WPA made him greater.

    Too many WPA personnel sacrificed so much for Walter and gave so much to Walter, for the Rodney family to think that because they are Walter’s family, the WPA should not have been asked for its input.

    The Rodney family was wrong to have taken that course. This columnist knows of the many mistakes the WPA has made since the PPP came to power that would have exasperated the Rodney family, but that does not mean that the family should refuse to see the bigger picture.

    The WPA takes the high ground on many occasions forgetting that many of its personnel have been, and are in bed with the PPP. I recall on one occasion on Walter’s death anniversary, I took the microphone to protest the continued invitation of Sam Hinds to the yearly event, only to be denounced on the platform, with Vanda Radzik reserving her wrath for me.

    The speaker after me (not a WPA member) denounced me and praised Jagdeo as a democrat to loud applause.

    No one supported my position, only Mark Benschop, who did so publicly and for which I will always thank him. WPA high-ranking member, Stanley Humphrey of Linden, months after met me at a TUC symposium and with a smile as broad as the three great rivers of Guyana said, “Freddie, I agree with wuh yuh said about Sam Hinds.” I turned to him and said, “But Stanley I did not see or hear you clapping me.”

    The two main organizers of the yearly Walter Rodney anniversary are Vanda Radzik and Jocelyn Dow.

    At the time of writing, I don’t know if they still retain their contracts with the Office of the President as consultants to the LCDS. Both traveled with President Jagdeo in that capacity to Copenhagen in 2010.

    The late David de Caires once told me that the best column I have ever written for his newspaper was the one on strange bedfellows in Guyanese politics ( see my article in the Stabroek News of Sunday, August 11, 1991, “All ahwe is one family or the new game of sucking up to both sides.”)

    The second evolutionary fault in the birth of the commission was the nature of the Terms of Reference. It includes the intelligence operations of the Burnham presidency. That is madness and it is equal madness for the PNC to accept that propagandistic vulgarity of the commission’s work.

    What will happen is that PPP officials will testify on the type of intelligence work against the opposition the Burnham presidency did in the seventies and eighties.

    The PPP will coerce former PNC officials who are now indebted to them (notably the rich man with the African first and last names) to go to the hearing and testify to the so-called horrible things the Burnham presidency did to the people of Guyana, including the PPP and WPA.

    The PPP will then show the world what a horrible government the PNC administration was and will tell its supporters that these are the people the WPA has joined with. Missing will be the most horrific things the PPP Government has done to this nation that make Mr. Burnham look like Mother Teresa.

    In case you didn’t know, I was a critic of Burnham and he never tried to kill me.I almost lost my life three times since the PPP came to power. Maybe I have more lives than a cat.

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  16. This is reciting stuff:

    Rodney’s death; former GDF Air Corps member to testify about aircraft movement

    image

    Denis Scott Chabrol – Demerara Waves

    Donald Rodney's lawyer, Keith Scotland, cross examines Eusi Kwayana Donald Rodney’s lawyer, Keith Scotland, cross examines Eusi Kwayana

    Working People’s Alliance (WPA) co-founder, Eusi Kwayana on Friday charged that Donald Rodney was made a scapegoat for the bomb-blast death of his brother, Dr. Walter Rodney, 30 years ago to shift blame away from the then Forbes Burnham-led Peoples National Congress (PNC) administration.

    Kwayana is basing his conclusion on a statement by Donald that then Guyana Defence Force (GDF) electronics expert, Sergeant Gregory Smith had given him the walkie-talkie on the night of June 13, 1980 but he was unaware that an explosive had been planted in it. Donald’s evidence at the time was that Smith had requested that they both synchronize their watches at 8 PM.

    Asked whether he would “conclude that Donald Rodney was made a scapegoat in all of this,” Kwayana said “I think the whole country is of that view”… “Yes, it can be put like that.”

    The 89-year old veteran Guyanese politician and educator is also relying on a statement by Smith’s neighbor, Pamela Beharry,  that she had known him to be a GDF Sergeant and that he had had a telephone there that he had specifically instructed his wife, Gwendolyn Jones, not to use. Further, Kwayana is also depending on a statement by an unnamed man from Kwakwani who had gone to the WPA, saying that he had seen a plane land there on June 14,1980 with Smith, a woman and children and left on June 17,1980 on a plane to an unknown destination out of Guyana. Between the movements of Smith, Donald had named Smith with full particulars on June 16,1980.

    The WPA veteran said it was a “very reasonable conclusion” that an ordinary person could not commandeer an aircraft without an official order. ““The Guyana Defence Force authorities would have to authorize that journey, that use of that plane,” he added.

    Kwayana said that the day after Smith left Guyana, the police had issued a notice in the state-owned Guyana Chronicle on June 18,1980 seeking public assistance about his whereabouts.

    Administrator for the Commission of Inquiry, Hugh Denbow later revealed that a former member of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Air Corps is expected to testify about the movement of aircraft on June 14 and 17, 1980.

    Denbow, who is Chairman of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), explained that that regulatory body only deals with civilian and commercial aviation rather than military aviation. He said in Guyana there is a “type of conflict” whereby the military uses civilian-registered aircraft but from sometimes when there are state or military flights the GCAA would not know their movements.

    Kwayana said the GCAA ought to be involved in the flight of the aircraft. “We are looking at something that is clandestine, not an overt official act but something that is clandestine,” he said in referring to the GDF aircraft that had transported Smith to and from Kwakwani.

    In a 2007 book “Assassination Cry of a Failed Revolution” by Smith and his sister, Ann Wagner, they claimed that Smith had given them a walkie-talkie to test near the metal wall of the Georgetown Prison but instead he inserted an explosive device.  Smith has also previously told the commission that the first time he had known of Smith’s existence was in Donald’s statement.

    Kwayana has previously told the three-member commission that the WPA executives had been acquiring walkie-talkies to communicate among themselves at a time when there had been no cellular phones and the party headquarters in Tiger Bay had been politically deprived of a landline.

    Then police bomb expert, Police Superintendent Kendall, had said at a trial of Donald for the alleged possession of explosives that based on the debris and particles the device that killed Rodney had contained explosives and could have been triggered remotely.

    Under cross-examination by Donald’s lawyer, Trinidadian Keith Scotland; Kwayana said that Smith’s exit out of Guyana and a lack of investigation and charging of him, also led him to conclude that there was state complicity on Walter’s death. Among the occurrences was the removal of armed police sentry from the four corners of the Georgetown Prison. “That is my whole point. There was State involvement. I put all of that (removal of the guards) into it. With or without Smith’s complicity but I think the people who ordered the removal knew about Gregory Smith’s plans,” he said.

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  17. What is amazing is the lack of interest being shown across the region to what is happening in the Walter Rodney assassination. Even if one does not know who the man was the way this crime was perpetrated is scary.

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  18. Pingback: Guyana’s Walter Rodney Inquiry · Global Voices

  19. What is even more galling is that the present survivors in the Caribbean are well aware of the evil continually being perpetrated by Europe under the current guise of ‘world heritage’, well guess who is still the one gaining financially by just changing the name of the self-serving greed every few decades, first it was ‘independent nations’ that lasted a good 5-6 decades, the one after world heritage will be something even more mind numbing to those who are still easily fooled by patriotism and shit that means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

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  20. Dear Editor:

    IS THE RODNEY COMMISSION OF INQUIRY A SERIOUS JUDICIAL PROCEEDING, A SHAM OR A SPANISH INQUISITION ?

    The current Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the death of Guyanese academic and politician, Dr. Walter Rodney, which occurred more than 34 years ago, bears no semblance to a serious judicial inquiry. I have listened to testimony via podcast as well as read press accounts of both testimony and exchanges between the Commissioners, the attorneys and witnesses.

    This COI should not be taken seriously. It is a disgraceful sham and fishing expedition. It is more befitting the title of “Spanish Inquisition” rather than a serious inquiry that is committed to “fact finding” on a basis of internationally acceptable judicial standards, rules of evidence and admissible testimony.

    I acknowledge that the law gives the COI powers to make its own rules. However such “made-up” rules cannot be outside of the scope of internationally acceptable judicial norms, as is flagrantly evident.

    Thus far, I have not seen one shred of valid, legitimate, corroborative “evidence” (verifiable facts) presented to the commission that establishes how Dr. Rodney died, who allegedly instigated, planned and executed this alleged plot or whether Dr. Rodney’s death was an accident of his own making or deliberate act.

    All we have heard to date are unsubstantiated, wild and sometimes downright foolish assertions and reckless accusations by so-called witnesses; some with rancid characters, while some others have the credibility of “Jack-the-Ripper.” How these opinions, assertions, accusations and suppositions became admissible evidence is beyond mind-boggling.

    As much as I respect Mr. Eusi Kwayana, his testimony so far constitutes such wild and baseless speculations and opinions that it has been nothing short of laughable. It is alien to reality.

    Anyone can climb on a soapbox or witness-stand and make wild accusations that tend to be salacious but which unjustifiably besmirch and sully people’s reputations and characters. However, for this commission to allow these so-called witnesses to do so in an intended judicial proceeding where fact and proof are not inevitable prerequisites is reprehensible.

    None of these characters have testified to being actual witnesses to Dr. Rodney’s death, as only his brother Donald was. Further, none of them testified to being knowledgeable about the operation Dr. Rodney was undertaking at the time.

    It is a fact that the only eyewitness, Donald Rodney, said after the explosion that there had been “a terrible accident.” It is also a fact that he also attested in his uncoerced statement to the police that the WPA, of which Dr. Walter Rodney and Mr. Eusi Kwayana were co-leaders, were planning an armed revolution to overthrow the then Forbes Burnham PNC government. Will the COI follow those leads? Can Mr. Kwayana testify to the validity of a confession in a ‘sworn’ statement that he probably was engaged in a conspiracy to commit treason?

    All of this notwithstanding, after two months of testimony, the COI is yet to hear any factual evidence by legitimate witnesses or individuals with actual knowledge about the facts and circumstances of how Dr. Rodney died.

    This process is rotten to the core and stinks to the heavens. This COI is a complete waste of taxpayers hard earn dollars. It is being used by the PPP government to stir up passions, incite racial fear and engender instability within the political opposition APNU coalition ahead of general elections.

    If at its conclusion this is all this COI has to offer the Guyanese people, then the reputations of the commissioners must suffer. Their reputations must be made to sink with their report, as they would have allowed themselves to be used to fulfill a dirty political agenda by the racist PPP ethnocracy that calls itself a ‘government’ in Guyana.

    Rickford Burke.

    Former Special Assistant to Hugh Desmond Hoyte, S.C.

    Late President of Guyana

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