Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 April 2023, 6:22 by Denis Chabrol
Home Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary Mae Toussaint Jr.-Thomas should be sent on leave until there is a full clearance that she did not violate any laws that led to the seizure of her cellphone by United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents on her arrival in that North American country, the opposition said on Tuesday.
“If this government was a decent government, they would have issued a proper statement and I believe the PS (Permanent Secretary) should not go back to work unless it is clear to all that she has no clashes with the law,” Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton said. Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Attorney-at-Law Geeta Chandan-Edmond added that until more information was pr0vided, she should be sent on leave. “Until the public is fully apprised of the facts of the matter, until confidence can be restored, until the government can have an official position on the matter, PS Toussaint Thomas ought to proceed on administrative leave.
Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn said there was no question that Ms Toussaint Jr-Thomas would remain on the job.
Weighing on the issue, the Opposition Leader said the Permanent Secretary embarrassed Guyana and should face tough action.
A top government official told Demerara Waves Online News that so far there was no evidence that the PS violated any US law that necessitated the seizure of her mobile phone by American agents while she was transiting to China. Mr Benn said she was travelling on government business. “The Ministry of Home Affairs is the epi-centre of all international security cooperation arrangements with Guyana and of course the Ministry has control over agencies responsible for law and order locally. The events that recently unfolded would obviously undermine public confidence in the PS and by extension, the Ministry. The chief accounting officer of the security ministry and the point person for several key security programs cannot also be a person who is smeared internationally. There simply cannot be business as usual at Home Affairs Ministry while its PS is under international investigation,” said Ms Chandan-Edmond, a former magistrate.
The Shadow Home Affairs Minister warned that if the PS remained on job that could affect Guyana’s fight against international crimes in collaboration with international partners.
The Home Affairs Ministry is responsible for police, immigration, Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, Prisons, and births and deaths,