Last Updated on Thursday, 7 January 2016, 15:54 by Denis Chabrol
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams says that the stern opposition to the Coroners Amendment Bill 2015 by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is an attempt to derail impending inquests into several deaths.
Shadow Attorney General Anil Nandlall had bashed the consultation process on the Coroners Bill labeling it as ‘cosmetic’ and a mere ‘gaff.’
Williams speaking to reporters on Thursday stated that the PPP was attempting to derail government’s legislative agenda and also prevent the administration from keeping campaign promises.
“What is happening with the PPP is they appear to be unaccustomed to democracy….the first call is that we went to parliament without consulting the stakeholder,” said Williams.
He said that Nandlall’s criticism of the consultation process amounts to disrespect being meted out to the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Bar Association and others that participated in the process.
“Let me give the real reason why they have a problem with the coroners amendment bill…this amendment is to widen the categories who can qualify as coroners…we will be going to do an inquest and amongst those inquests would be Satyadeo Sawh.” Sawh, a former Minister of Agriculture, two of his siblings and a security guard were gunned down by heavily armed men who had invaded his home at La Bonne Intention (LBI) village, East Coast Demerara. At that time, there had been reports that he might have blocked the acquisition of Kaow Island by Guyanese drug lord, Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan who has since been convicted and jailed for cocaine trafficking.
The APNU+AFC coalition also wants inquests to be held into other unnatural death of hundreds of other persons who were gunned down during the violent crime spree between 2002 and 2006.
Among the Nandlall’s concerns is whether a Justice of Peace could “competently perform the functions of a Coroner.”
He said that the qualifications of Coroners must be fixed by the Bill and not determined at the discretion of any commission or authority.
“At a minimum, a Coroner should have a university degree, preferably, in Law” and they “should be persons performing the functions of the coroner on a full-time basis in each magisterial district.”
It was confirmed that with the passage of the Bill the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will lay down the qualifications to be appointed as a Coroner.