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“Harmon is wrong”- says Jagdeo on presidential immunity from prosecution

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

Former President, Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday railed against government’s suggestion that he could be stripped of constitutional immunity because he has re-entered active politics.

Now Opposition Leader and General Secretary of his People’s Progressive Party (PPP),  Jagdeo objected to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon’s view that the former Guyanese leader’s constitutional protection from prosecution in civil and criminal courts for official acts could be removed because he is back in the political limelight. “Harmon is wrong on this and as a lawyer I am so ashamed from him to think that anyone can remove a constitutional protection,” Jagdeo told a news conference.

Jagdeo, who served as president from 1999 to 2011, also rubbished Harmon’s remark that the police could determine presidential immunity. “It is only the courts can determine these issues,” said the PPP leader.

Jagdeo took up his constitutional office as Opposition Leader after the May 2015 general elections in January was elected General Secretary of the PPP.

Investigators of the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) last week arrested Jagdeo and questioned him briefly about his sale and acquisition of land at Goedverwagting- Sparendaam (Pradoville2).

The politician has said he queried from investigators whether they were questioning him about his decisions made as President because he enjoys immunity.

The former President has not given any clear indication on whether he would be willing to run again for the presidency if the Caribbean Court of Justice upholds a Guyana High Court decision that amendments to the constitution. Those amendments providing for term limits, the High Court says, are unconstitutional because they can only be made by a referendum instead of a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

  • Emile_Mervin

    Not that Jagdeo should be defended for facilitating the massive ripping off of Guyana; actually, he owes Guyana and Guyanese big time, but the immunity clause is straightforward: a President cannot be held criminally or civilly responsible, while in office or after leaving office, for acts committed while in office.

    And the reason for this is FORBES BURNHAM! This clause was inserted to protect Burnham and his shenanigans, which don’t even come close to what Jagdeo has done. In fact, Jagdeo deliberately engaged in excesses because he knew the immunity clause was there. This is why Jagdeo has to be dealt with outside Guyana’s courts.

  • BeFair_SeeClear

    So wait …you can be president murder…kill and rape and dont’t be charged? We need to change the constitution.

  • Max

    Not so fast! don’t forget that Guyana signed on to the Rome statute of the International Court of Justice on September 24, 2004. It is my understanding that in cases of crimes against humanity, International Law trumps national law. So, one time President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d ‘ lvoir is tried for crimes against humanity, President Charles Taylor of Liberia for war crimes, and President Slobodan Milosevic of former Yugoslavia for ethnic cleansing. Are witnesses such as Roger Khan useful in this setting? Let’s wait a while longer!

  • Gtloyal

    I obviously condemn the use of the word “great” and even question the use of the word that follows.

  • Gtloyal

    I obviously condemn the use of the word “great” and even question the use of the word that follows it.