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Friday, June 30, 2006

-Suriname says he was no longer suspect -lawyer alleges rendition, says client drugged, kidnapped by American agents
Roger Khan

Businessman Roger Khan was last night on US soil facing a drug charge after dramatic events in Paramaribo yesterday led to his handing over to American agents and his lawyers charging that he had been drugged and spirited out of Suriname via extraordinary rendition.

Khan had been centre stage of a riveting four-month drama that crisscrossed Guyana, Suriname and the US and ensnared the joint services here.

Justice Minister of Suriname Chrandrikapersad Santokhi confirmed to Suriname journalists last night that Khan was deported and put on a flight to Trinidad and Tobago by Suriname police. He was then handed over to immigration authorities upon arrival in Port Spain who then handed him over to US officials.

Khan was flown out of Johann Pengel International Airport, Paramaribo on a Suriname Airways flight heavily guarded by police escorts three of whom accompanied him to Trinidad. American authorities in Trinidad and Tobago declined to comment on the matter when contacted by this newspaper yesterday.

The deportation of the businessman came days after a Suriname court had granted an extension of his detention in Suriname and also on the eve of the hearing of motion which was filed by his Surinamese attorney, Irwnis Khanai seeking to block his extradition to the USA.

Paramaribo was adamant yesterday that the Guyanese businessman was not extradited, but rather deported from the country after he was no longer a suspect on allegations of drug trafficking, firearms possession and being part of a criminal gang. There was no statement from Washington up to press time last night. Meanwhile, Khan was up to last night in federal custody in New York, his attorney, Glenn Hanoman told Stabroek News. He arrived in the USA around 4 pm yesterday.

The Surinamese declaration that Khan was no longer a suspect in a recent drug bust came as a surprise as Santokhi and other officials had issued strong statements linking Khan to drugs, crime gangs and plots to assassinate Surinamese officials. The officials had also said that Khan would most likely be prosecuted in Suriname.

Observers say the turn of events probably represents a deal between the US and Paramaribo for Khan to be put in the hands of American authorities for his prosecution in New York. Guyana had already indicated it was not pursuing extradition of Khan at this point as it appeared that the charges in Suriname would be more serious. There was no statement yesterday from the Guyana Government on the latest developments. Observers noted that if Khan was to be deported it would have to be to Guyana since he crossed illegally from here and the best route to send him back would be across the Corentyne River on the ferry.

Thomas Walsh, spokesperson for the US Embassy in Paramaribo told a local journalist when contacted on the matter that he could only confirm that the US government had made a request for the provisional arrest of Khan to Suriname for extradition. He said also that there was an international arrest warrant out for Khan whose name was mentioned in a US State Department drug report this year. With regard to Khan's deportation, Walsh said that was a different matter but he hoped that the businessman could be captured by the US on the basis of the international arrest warrant.

Set free

John Jones, Suriname Police spokesman told Stabroek News when contacted that as far as he was aware Khan was set free by the Surinamese authorities after they found that he was no longer a suspect on the allegations they were holding him for. Jones said the only charge they had against Khan was that of being in the country illegally and as such he was deported. According to Jones the businessman was put on a plane around 6 am Suriname time yesterday and flown to Trinidad en route to Georgetown.

The policeman said he could not say whether Khan was picked up by US officials and he did not know whether flying Khan to the US was in the original plan when the Guyanese was deported. Jones said as far as he knew Khan was deported to his homeland Guyana, adding that from what he was told Surinamese police escorted Khan to the airport and ensured he boarded an aircraft. "All I know is that he was deported to Guyana, they released him from jail, put him on a plane and got him out of the country," Jones said.

He could not say whether US law enforcement officials facilitated Khan's deportation and was adamant that the Guyanese businessman was not extradited, but rather deported.

On the issue of the three other Guyanese, Sean Belfield, Lloyd Roberts and Paul Rodrigues, Jones said they along with the other Surinamese who were arrested on the day of the drug bust are still in custody. He said investigations are ongoing and once there is a case against them they would be charged. Khan had appeared in a Suriname court charged with violating the country's narcotics and firearms laws as well as being part of a criminal gang. Jones said all of these charges were dropped and when asked why, he directed this newspaper to the Prosecutor General or the Justice Minister.

According to Hanoman, shortly after midday yesterday Khan made contact with his relatives in Miami after being afforded a telephone call. He told his relatives that he was on his way to New York. Hanoman said Khan departed Suriname on a Suriname Airways flight to Trinidad and Tobago. He was then placed into a private jet which flew to Miami where it made another stop.

"Cowboy" behaviour

Meanwhile, in a strongly worded statement, Hanoman said that the decision of the Surinamese authorities to send Khan by airplane to Trinidad and Tobago was obviously not done to facilitate his deportation to Guyana. According to the lawyer he was advised that around 11 pm on Wednesday, American operatives were allowed into the Santo Boma Prison, where Khan was being held in Suriname. He was then injected with a substance that rendered him unconscious after which he was lifted out of his cell with a hood over his head and flown to Trinidad and Tobago where a private jet awaited him. In addition, Hanoman said his client was shackled with chains and then flown to Miami.

"It is abundantly clear that Surinamese officials aided and abetted this extraordinary rendition of a citizen of a sister Caricom state. It is to be hoped that Caricom, the Guyana government, the international community and other organizations condemn in the strongest possible terms this 'Cowboy" behaviour displayed by both the Suriname and American governments and even possibly the Trinidad and Tobago government," the lawyer remarked. He said by their actions these governments have indicated that they have no respect for the rule of law, for due process, for human rights or sovereignty. Hanoman said Khan had at least three pending matters that he has instituted in the courts in Suriname, including an action to prevent his extradition to the USA, which was scheduled to be heard today. The lawyer said by this latest move, Khan has been effectively prevented from pursuing his legal remedies. "It reflects poorly," the lawyer remarked "on the executive in Suriname and shows the extent that they are prepared to go to usurp judicial and democratic processes."

Further, Hanoman said he was made to understand that in the first place there was no evidence for which Khan could have been charged in Suriname, which just goes to show that Guyanese in Suriname who have not committed any offence may be subjected to all kinds of treatment. The lawyer said it was shocking that Jones has stated that the other three Guyanese will be kept in custody for investigations to continue into the same allegations Khan was subjected to. "If the alleged ringleader was not charged surely it is malicious to keep the other three on the same facts," Hanoman remarked.

Dismiss indictment

Meanwhile, an attorney for Khan yesterday filed a motion in the United States District court requesting the dismissal of a Grand Jury indictment which alleges that the businessman conspired to import cocaine into that country.

Khan was captured along with three of his cohorts two weeks ago in Suriname during a huge drug bust, which netted some 213 kilos of cocaine.

The seven-page motion filed by US attorney-at-law, John E Bergendahl, outlined among other things Khan's previous clashes with the US law as well as his local crime fighting claims.

According to the motion, on or about April 13, 2006 a Federal Grand Jury sitting in the Eastern District of New York, returned a one-count indictment purporting to charge Khan with conspiracy to import five or more kilos of cocaine into the United States between January 2001 and March 2006 in violation of Title 21 United States Code 963 960 and 906.

According to the motion, on or about May 3, 2006 the US government filed an application requesting that that the indictment be unsealed and an order granting the government's application was also entered the same day. The lawyer argues that the US government requested that the indictment be unsealed despite the fact that Khan was not in custody, noting that on the date the indictment was unsealed Khan was residing in his native country Guyana. According to the attorney despite the fact that the indictment has now been unsealed, no request for Khan's extradition has ever been sent to the government of Guyana. He added in his motion that on June 15 Khan was taken into custody by law enforcement officials in Suriname and was held under deplorable conditions violative of his legal and human rights. The attorney said that on June 21, the US government sent a letter through official diplomatic channels to the government of Suriname indicating its intention to seek the extradition and return of Khan to the US to face trial on the indictment.

Possession of firearm

Giving a background of Khan's past brushes with US law, the lawyer said in his motion that during the late 1980's and early 1990's the businessman was living in the USA and attended the Norwich University in Vermont. On or about November 29, 1993 Khan was arrested on a federal criminal complaint and on December 16 of the same year he was charged in a one-count indictment with possession of firearms by a convicted felon in violation of Title 18 United States Code 922. Khan was released on US$1000 cash bond following his initial appearance held on November 30, 1993.

The lawyer noted that following Khan's release on bond he departed to Guyana and never returned to the USA. On March 30, 1994, the lawyer said the US District Court for the district of Vermont issued an arrest warrant for Khan and on October 28, 1994 Khan's bond was ordered forfeited.

Fighting crime

The lawyer said that following Khan's return to Guyana in 1993 or early 1994 he became an enterprising, innovative entrepreneur. He founded and operated a number of successful businesses including, but not limited to, a housing development and Construction Company, a carpet cleaning service, a nightclub and a timber mill.

Over the next decade, the lawyer said Khan prospered and became a well known publicly recognized figure in Georgetown. "On February 23,2002 a number of violent and dangerous convicts escaped from the Camp Street prison in Georgetown. These individuals went on a crime spree of unrivalled proportions and neither government nor the Guyana Police Force was adequately equipped to deal with the crisis," the motion declared. The lawyer noted that during the same period Steve Lesniak, a member of the US diplomatic corps was kidnapped and held hostage and Khan responded to the crisis and the kidnapping by providing financial and logistical support to the government.

"The support Mr Khan provided was invaluable in assisting the authorities in suppressing the crime wave and securing the safe return of Mr Lesniak," the motion noted.

It added that earlier this year Khan consulted with representatives of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) on a regular basis in an effort to assist them in investigating the disappearance of a number of AK-47 rifles from a military facility. Khan also in March, the motion said met with American officials at a meeting at Ocean View International Hotel to address ongoing crime and security concerns in Guyana. The US Embassy in Georgetown had admitted that a meeting was indeed held between Khan and officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as part of the ongoing investigation into Khan's alleged ties with the criminal underworld.

Khan released tapes

The motion further stated that in order to expose, identify and curb corruption and incompetence within the GPF, Khan released a number of tape recorded conversations between various PNCR and Police Commis-sioner, Winston Felix.

The motion said that in retaliation on March 19, 2006 members of the joint services raided a number of businesses owned or operated by Khan and subsequently Felix issued wanted bulletins for Khan and some of his associates even though they were not charged with any crimes. This move by the police had led to Khan's attorneys lodging an application in the High Court of Guyana seeking an order nisi quashing the bulletins.

Additionally, the motion noted that the indictment of Khan generated a substantial amount of publicity in Guyana and the businessman responded to the indictment by making a number of well publicized statements saying that he was not guilty of the charges and suggesting that the charges were not only unfounded, but were merely being used as a vehicle to attempt to destroy and discredit an individual who was strong enough to help prevent the overthrow of the Guyana government, which now has leftist leanings and would not serve the United States' best interest in South America.

The motion went on to state that following Khan's detention in Suriname he was beaten and physically abused by law enforcement officers. He said too that he was denied medical attention and visits by his attorneys.

Calling for the indictment to be dismissed Bergendahl said that the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that 'No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury." To this end the lawyer said the indictment should be dismissed as it is void of any of the constitutional guarantees afforded Khan by the United States Constitution and decision authority from the United States Supreme Court. He argued that the indictment did not say specifically what Khan was charged for.

Stabroek News

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Controversial Guyanese businessman Roger Khan, holed up under tight security in a maximum security prison in Suriname after being nabbed there nearly two weeks ago in a sting operation, is to be held there until July 30.

Khan, 35, who the U.S. has branded as a drug trafficker, yesterday made another appearance before an examining magistrate who granted the authorities request to continue detaining him until that time, to allow for a continuation of the investigations surrounding his arrest, according to attorney-at-law Glen Hanoman.

And according to Hanoman, the fact that after 14 days the Suriname authorities have been unable to institute charges means there is no real hard evidence against his client.

Hanoman who refuted previous reports in the media here claiming that Khan had been charged, has confirmed that an earlier order which prevented two Surinamese lawyers, Irwinis Khanai and G. R. Shewcharran, contracted to represent Khan in that country, from seeing him, was lifted Friday last.

As a result, Khan was seen by Khanai that day, and Shewcharran visited him yesterday.

Meanwhile, hearing of a motion filed by the lawyers seeking to usurp any extradition request by the U.S. authorities on the grounds that the indictment proffered has no legal basis, will be heard on Friday, Hanoman added.

As for the move by the U.S. to have the Surinamese extradite Khan to that country on the basis of an indictment which accuses him of conspiring to ship cocaine into the U.S. this year, Hanoman is adamant that no treaty exists between Suriname and the U.S. to extradite him on such an indictment.

Noting that the two countries are seeking to use an 1887 treaty inherited from the Netherlands, Hanoman further pointed out that Article I of the treaty categorically states that the accused to whom the indictment relates must be physically present in the United States at the time the offence was committed.

Additionally, he said, narcotics was not listed under the 1887 treaty and although Suriname ratified the 1988 Vienna Convention on narcotics, it still cannot stand as a basis.

“A convention cannot stand as a basis for an extradition, it has to be done by a bilateral arrangement,” Hanoman posited.

He told the Chronicle too, that in order for Suriname to explore the possibility of extraditing Khan to the U.S., the embassy there must lodge a copy of the indictment, the treaty which exists between the two countries, and a summary of the evidence against Khan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Suriname, but as far as he is aware, this has not been done.

Khan was nabbed along with 11 other suspects, including three other Guyanese, Sean Belfield, Paul Rodrigues and Lloyd Roberts, in what police there said was the biggest cocaine haul in that country this year.

The operation netted 213 kilograms of cocaine, police said.

Asked about the status of the other three Guyanese, Hanoman said matters relating to them will be raised in court on Friday as well.

Public Diplomacy Officer in the U.S. embassy in Suriname, Thomas Walsh, in a telephone interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Monday, had said subsequent to the arrest of Khan who was charged with cocaine trafficking by a New York court earlier this year, and an arrest warrant issued for him, the U.S. filed two requests - a provisional arrest for the purpose of extradition and for his physical extradition.

He said so far the request for provisional arrest has been satisfied, in that the U.S. is aware that Khan is being kept in custody, and the U.S. now awaits the extradition process to continue.

Asked how soon the U.S. expects a response to the second request, Walsh said while he could not say, the U.S. is aware that Suriname will have to conduct its own internal judicial process.

“They (Suriname) know of the U.S. interest, and we have to await an answer,” Walsh added.

During Khan’s first arraignment, the office of the examining magistrate was guarded by members of the Suriname Police SWAT team, armed with high-powered weapons.

The Guyana Government last week told Suriname that it would not “at this time” seek to have Khan and the three other Guyanese held in Suriname extradited to this country to face prosecution here.

The decision was communicated by Home Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira to her Suriname counterpart, Justice Minister Chandrikapersad Santokhi.

Before his weekly Cabinet meeting Wednesday last, Santokhi told Suriname journalists of the discussion he had with Ms. Teixeira and the decision taken by the Guyana Government which gives Suriname more leeway to consider the formal U.S. request for Khan to be extradited to face drugs charges there.

Teixeira told Santokhi that although Guyanese police are investigating alleged crimes Khan might have committed, it is up to Suriname to prosecute him and his cohorts for offences they might have committed in the Dutch-speaking country.

Khan was believed to have been hiding out in Suriname after the Police here put him on a wanted list in connection with the theft of 30 AK-47 rifles and five pistols from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) headquarters in Georgetown.

The U.S. Government earlier this year named Khan among drug traffickers it claimed were gaining a significant foothold in Guyana’s timber industry.

“In 2005, the Guyana Forestry Commission granted a State Forest Exploratory Permit for a large tract of land in Guyana’s interior to Aurelius Inc., a company controlled by known drug trafficker Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan,” the U.S. 2006 International Narcotics Control Strategy report stated.

“Such concessions in the remote interior may allow drug traffickers to establish autonomous outposts beyond the reach of Guyanese law enforcement,” the report added.

Local Police on March 29 put out a wanted bulletin for Khan, shortly after his business places in and around Georgetown were raided in joint operations by the Police Force and the GDF.

Police in a press release said Khan, of 133 Rotunda Place, D’Aguiar’s Park, Houston, was wanted in connection with investigations into the discovery of firearms, ammunition, drugs and other illegal items found during the Joint Services operation.

During their operations, GDF troops and police ranks targeted all of Khan’s known businesses in Georgetown – Dreamworks Housing Development in Garnette Street; the Reef Club at 60, Station Street, Kitty, and the Master’s Touch Carpet Cleaners at 2nd Street, Bel Air Village.

They also searched his D’Aguiar’s Park home and deployed a team to Kaow Island in the Essequibo River, where he also owns a sawmilling operation.

Khan in statements issued in the press claimed that the U.S. indictment and anything flowing from it had been motivated by political considerations.

He said he is perceived by persons in the U.S., the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force and the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform as someone “who has the will and a capacity to fight crime and to protect the people of Guyana.”
Burlington, Vermont - June 19, 2006

One of Vermont's most-wanted federal fugitives has been arrested as an alleged drug kingpin in South America.

In 1993, Shaheed "Roger" Khan was 22 when he was charged with dealing guns and drugs while a student at Norwich University. He faced federal charges because he had two prior felony drug convictions in his home state of Maryland. He was released on pre-trial bail. But he fled to his birth country of Guyana in South America and became Vermont's most wanted federal fugitive.

Federal authorities say he became the kingpin of a lucrative ring smuggling guns and drugs in Guyana. Khan disappeared a month ago after he and eight others were arrested and released after they allegedly stole 33 AK-47 assault rifles from a police armory in Guyana. Khan remained missing until late last week, when he and four ex-police officers from Guyana were arrested in neighboring Surinam, allegedly in possession of 200 lbs. of cocaine.

U.S. authorities say they had known for some time that Khan was in Guyana, but he was not arrested and returned because Guyana does not honor U.S. extradition requests. It's unclear what will happen now that he has been arrested in Surinam.

Brian Joyce - Channel 3 News

Monday, June 19, 2006
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A SURINAME government minister yesterday linked fugitive Guyanese businessman Shaheed `Roger’ Khan to plots to assassinate key government and judicial officials in the neighbouring country.

Suriname Minister of Justice, Mr. Chandrikapersad Santokhi, told ‘de Ware Tijd’ newspaper the plots were uncovered in the probe by Suriname police into Khan’s prior activities.

He said the planned executions were part of Khan’s business in that country.

The dramatic arrest of Khan, 35, in a sting operation in Suriname Thursday, ended a two-year close watch on a man deemed a threat to the national security of the neighbouring countries, Santokhi said Saturday.

Sources also told `de Ware Tijd’ that among the names on the uncovered `hit list’ was that of Santokhi.

The newspaper said it has also learnt that another of the plots was against a police unit that was involved in the search for ammunition and grenades stolen from a Suriname army base.

The unit had been conducting searches for the missing ammunition and grenades in the Nickerie area, in the border region with Guyana.

According to the newspaper, Suriname Prosecutor-General Subhas Punwasi had informed a news conference after it was discovered that the ammo and grenades had disappeared, that Police teams were assisting in the search to recover them.

Santokhi also said that the United States, which has named him as a drug lord they want, is seeking his extradition to the U.S. and a formal request is to be put to the Suriname authorities this week.

He said the U.S. Embassy in Suriname has been in touch with the authorities in that country on flying Khan to the U.S. which claims he conspired to import drugs there between January 2001 and March 2006.

Santokhi told the newspaper Saturday that Khan has been placed under “maximum security” because officials there fear his network may try to break him out of custody.

According to the minister, Khan had wide criminal influence from his drug operations and was posing a national security threat not only to Guyana but to Suriname.

He said the “criminal activities” of the detained man extended beyond the two neighbouring countries and the Caribbean and international agencies, including those in the U.S., had been looking for him.

Suriname authorities, the minister said, had been following Khan’s moves for two years after they received information about his operations here and in the former Dutch colony.

Santokhi told ‘de Ware Tijd’, anti-drugs and other agencies in Suriname did not have enough to move against Khan until Thursday when they swooped and netted him in the biggest cocaine bust this year in that country.

Khan and three other Guyanese were among 12 people arrested in the operation which netted 213 kilos of cocaine.

The arrests by a joint Police SWAT-team and units of the Narcotics Brigade took place at two locations just outside downtown Paramaribo.

Suriname Prosecutor-General Subhas Punwasi confirmed Friday that Khan was among those arrested.

“From at least one of the other three Guyanese suspects I can confirm that he is an ex-policeman. The two others we believe are either in active police service or in the Guyanese intelligence agencies”, Punwasi told ‘de Ware Tijd’.

According to sources, Paul Rodrigues and Sean Belfield, two ex-Guyanese cops, are among the detainees. The identity of the fourth Guyanese detained is still under investigation since he didn’t have identification papers and allegedly entered Suriname illegally.

Punwasi also confirmed that the swoop Thursday was against a Guyana-Suriname gang which was trafficking cocaine from Guyana to Suriname.

“This is a big case and we are still following some leads. We want to catch all the persons who are involved in this gang”, said Commissioner Mathoera-Hussainali, Head of the Judicial Department of the Suriname Police Force.

The suspects did not resist arrest and more arrests were not ruled out, she said.

Khan was not in hiding in Suriname nor was he there on business, legal or illegal, his attorney, Mr. Vic Puran said Saturday night.

Puran told the Guyana Chronicle the purpose of Khan’s visit to the neighbouring country would be disclosed at a later time, because “if it is now stated it could be misconstrued in view of his current difficulties in Suriname.”

He said Khan’s other attorney, Mr. Glen Hanoman, who travelled to Suriname after his client was arrested Thursday, in the biggest cocaine bust in that country, retained a Surinamese lawyer who had a “supervised conversation” with Khan yesterday.

According to Puran, Khan said he has severely beaten by a dumb bell bar wrapped in wadding and has serious bruises on his ribs and other parts of his body.

Hanoman was denied access to Khan who has not seen a doctor, Puran said.

He added that the other three Guyanese held in the cocaine bust have also been beaten by Surinamese authorities and the four are being kept in separate places.

Puran said Khan told the Surinamese lawyer that he was being beaten in custody because the authorities want to extract a confession to link him to the 213 kilos of cocaine found in the operation.

The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, unsealed an indictment on May 3 last, which charges that Khan conspired to import cocaine into the U.S. between January 2001 and March 2006.

Police made the arrests and the drug find Thursday at two different locations in the capital Paramaribo.

At the first house in a residential area a few minutes drive from downtown Paramaribo, 109 kilos of cocaine were seized by the police squads. Another 104 kilos of cocaine and an automatic gun were found when the police raided a house in Franchepane Straat, Zorg-en-Hoop, also in Paramaribo.

Initially, six Surinamese nationals and one Guyanese were arrested and the other five were held as the investigation progressed.

Police in Guyana issued wanted bulletins for Khan and Rodrigues and were looking for Khan in connection with the theft of 30 AK-47 rifles from the Guyana Defence Force Camp Ayanganna headquarters in Georgetown earlier this year.

Since then Khan and several other persons connected to him were on the run and rumours were that they went into hiding in Suriname.

The U.S. Government earlier this year named Khan among drug traffickers it claimed were gaining a significant foothold in Guyana’s timber industry.

“In 2005, the Guyana Forestry Commission granted a State Forest Exploratory Permit for a large tract of land in Guyana’s interior to Aurelius Inc., a company controlled by known drug trafficker Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan,” the U.S. 2006 International Narcotics Control Strategy report stated.

“Such concessions in the remote interior may allow drug traffickers to establish autonomous outposts beyond the reach of Guyanese law enforcement,” the report added.

The U.S. had indicated it was moving to request the extradition of Khan to face charges that he conspired to ship cocaine into the U.S. this year.

“We expect that that will be submitted in due course,” U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Roland Bullen said on May 25.

Attorney for Khan, Mr. Vic Puran had said his client was prepared to face the local courts and to “deal” with an extradition request from the U.S.

Revelations by Khan caused the U.S. to move away from protocol and to divulge interactions its agents had with the businessman.

An official at the U.S. embassy here said the embassy chose to speak of meetings Khan held with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) only “because Khan is of active law enforcement interest.”

Local Police on March 29 put out a wanted bulletin for Khan, shortly after his business places, in and around Georgetown, were raided in joint operations by the Police Force and the GDF.

Police in a press release said Khan, of 133 Rotunda Place, D’Aguiar’s Park, Houston, is wanted in connection with investigations into the discovery of firearms, ammunition, drugs and other illegal items found during the Joint Services operation.

During their operations, GDF troops and police ranks targeted all of Khan’s known businesses in Georgetown – Dreamworks Housing Development in Garnette Street; the Reef Club at 60, Station Street, Kitty, and the Master’s Touch Carpet Cleaners at 2nd Street, Bel Air Village.

They also searched his D’Aguiar’s Park home and deployed a team to Kaow Island in the Essequibo River, where he also owns a sawmilling operation.

Khan in statements issued in the press claimed that the grand jury indictment and anything flowing from it had been motivated by political considerations.

He said he is perceived by persons in the U.S., the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force and the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform as someone “who has the will and a capacity to fight crime and to protect the people of Guyana.”

At the Guyana 40th Independence anniversary event in Toronto last month, Home Affairs Minister Gail Teixiera told a gathering, “The Americans have called for the extradition of one of the biggest drug lords in our country and as a government we will do everything possible to make sure that narcotics and weapons are removed from infiltrating our society, our communities, our young people.”

She added that the country is also faced by local crime and security problems and they are being tackled by a number of initiatives taken by the government.

Guyana Chronicle
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Suriname to try Khan & Co. if offences committed -Prosecutor General

In the wake of the largest drug bust there this year, Suriname yesterday declared it would try fugitive businessman Roger Khan and others if it was found that they had broken laws.

Sources in Georgetown yesterday said that the United States is also keen to prosecute Khan following his indictment in New York this year on a charge of conspiring to import drugs.

In Thursday's operation in Paramaribo, Khan and three other Guyanese: Paul Rodrigues, Sean Belfield and Lloyd Roberts, and eight Surinamese were held. The police also confiscated 213 kilos of cocaine.

In an interview with the Surinamese newspaper de Ware Tijd (DWT) yesterday, Suriname's Prosecutor-General Subhas Punwasi said "From at least one of the other three Guyanese suspects I can confirm that he is an ex-policeman. The two others we believe are either in active police service or in the Guyanese intelligence agencies". Sources in Georgetown said this is because when the Guyanese men were arrested in Paramaribo, two of them were passed off as if they were still active in Guyana's security and intelligence services.

According to DWT, the Prosecutor-General categorically ruled out an extradition of the Guyanese suspects to either Guyana or the United States if the men had committed offences on Surinamese soil. Wanted bulletins had been issued by the Guyanese police for Khan and Rodrigues.

"If Mr Khan and the other Guyanese detainees have violated Surinamese laws they will be prosecuted by a Surinamese court", said the prosecutor.

DWT said that at this stage it is also unclear if the US will seek extradition from Suriname. Tom Walsh, Charge d'Affaires at the US embassy speaking through Public Relations officer Cliff Djamin said, that formally the embassy wasn't notified yet of Khan's arrest. "So we can't comment whether the United States will seek an extradition or not", said Djamin.

DWT, as reported in yesterday's Stabroek News said the police made the arrest and the drug find at two different locations in the capital Paramaribo. At the first house in a residential area a few minutes drive from downtown, 109 kilos of cocaine were seized by the police. At the second spot that was raided police confiscated 104 kilos cocaine and an automatic weapon. Initially six Surinamese and one Guyanese were apprehended. As the investigation progressed the other five suspects were apprehended. If found guilty the suspects face a jail term of up to 18 years. "This is a major case and we will go for the highest sentence", Punwasi told DWT.

Commissioner Mathoera-Hussainali, Head of the Judicial Department of the Suriname Police Force told DWT that the suspects didn't resist arrest. More arrests were not ruled out, she said. "This is a big case and we are still following some leads. We want to catch all the persons who are involved in this gang", she told DWT. Prosecutor-General Punwasi said a Guyana-Suriname gang was suspected of trafficking cocaine from Guyana to Suriname and those apprehended were believed to be a part of this. He further told DWT that the authorities were following the moves of this organisation for some time "and when the time was right we have hit them". A small quantity of crack-cocaine was also found, Commissioner Mathoera-Hussainali told DWT.

Commissioner Mathoera-Hussainali and the Prosecutor General told DWT that the police were not looking for Khan in particular, but just acted on information the police force had received about drug related activities.

"When we made the bust at the first place, information has led us to the second address. It was at this place that we have arrested Mr Khan and the other Guyanese", said the Prosecutor-General.


Meanwhile a US embassy official here who asked not to be named told Stabroek News yesterday that because Khan was arrested in another jurisdiction, the US Embassy in Georgetown would not have much to say on the matter. He however indicated that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Washington has been in contact with its officers in Suriname on the matter.

The official said the US would no doubt allow the Surinamese authorities to carry out their investigations before any move is made to have Khan extradited to the US.

It is not clear whether local authorities have any keen interest in Khan returning here and up to yesterday officials would only say that they are allowing their Dutch counterparts to carry out their investigations.

Local police had published wanted bulletins for Khan, Rodrigues and two others in March following the discovery of illegal items on their properties during a series of joint services raids. The men had challenged the wanted bulletins through their lawyers. The matter is before the courts.

Noting that the arrest of Khan, Rodrigues and the others was a well-coordinated operation, the embassy official indicated that the US DEA in Suriname might have had a hand in advising the Surinamese authorities on how to move. The official said too that the capture of Khan is as a result of good intelligence gathering and co-ordination, something, which he said was lacking in Guyana.

Meanwhile, a police source in Paramaribo confirmed to Stabroek News that among the persons arrested in the raids was a Surinamese who heads a criminal organisation there. Asked what would be the next step for the men in custody, the source said that authorities will investigate to ascertain whether all four Guyanese are connected to the drugs and weapon find. He said if they are, then they would be prosecuted by Suriname authorities but if not they will be deported to Guyana. The source added that Khan is on Interpol's wanted list.

Contacted for a comment, one of Khan's lawyers, Vic Puran said that he had not been brought up to date with the matter. According to the attorney, his colleague, Glenn Hanoman had travelled to Suriname early yesterday morning, but he had not made contact with him as yet.


Khan, 35, fled from the US in the late 90's after he was fingered in a gun case. Since 2002 when he was held near a large cache of weapons at Good Hope, Khan has gained notoriety. He recently admitted that he used his own resources to fight crime in 2002-3 and worked closely with the crime fighting section of the police force. Additionally, Khan said that he had employed a network of ex-convicts and members of the disbanded Police Target Special Squad to work as informants and bodyguards for him. Since he was indicted by a US Grand Jury for conspiring to import cocaine into the USA, Khan has been releasing statements apparently to muster public support and to stave off any attempt to hand him over to the US authorities. He has so far criticized the US government, the main opposition, PNCR and the police force and the army. He is also thought to be behind the releasing of taped conversations allegedly between Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix and other persons.

Belfield was a police constable back in 2002 when he Khan and Haroon Yahya were found with the cache of weapons at Good Hope. All three were acquitted in the magistrate's court. Soon after, Belfield was dismissed from the police force, but from all appearances he maintained close ties with key members of the now disbanded Target Special Squad of which he was a key member. Back in February this year he had reported that his five-year-old daughter Tiffany Belfield was kidnapped from the Kingston Nursery School. Commis-sioner of Police, Felix later told reporters that the child's abduction was staged. Since then much has not been said about Belfield but many knew that he was connected with Khan.

Rodrigues, a well known detective during his days in the police force has been affiliated with Khan for a number of years. He was absent from duties for a number of months when police swooped on a house in Bel Air and arrested him and other men with a cache of arms and ammunition. That matter was also taken to the court but the men were all set free. On March 29, the police issued an arrest warrant for him, Khan, Ricardo Rodrigues and Gerald Perreira after raids on their properties unearthed a number of illegal items.

Stabroek News
An alarming number of rape cases in Guyana

Stabroek News

Dear Editor

In the mist of all the news about the burgeoning criminal industry, the most heinous crime of rape is being committed too often on women in Guyana and the perpetrators are going unpunished. Apart from a few letters and articles, the voluminous cases of rape have virtually gone unnoticed. I must let it be known that I write this letter with outrage and anger and all of Guyana should be outraged too. The time has come when the judicial system, the government, the media, the Guyana police force and opposition parties take responsibility and make punishing these monsters who perpetrate these acts of barbarism upon women and children top priority. It is an uncivilized society that allows these acts to go on unnoticed and unpunished for this long.

While an indicted and fugitive drug lord and his illegally obtained tapes get weeks of media attention, the rape and murder of 16 year old Roshni Partabsingh received one article mention in the various media centers. Is it because this promising 16 year old girl and her suffering family are not as rich as this fugitive, that her brutal rape and murder by the hands of those monsters have not received the same media attention? Is it possible if weeks of media attention were given to her rape and murder, our politicians and citizens would take notice and act?

For the year an estimated 100 cases of rape have been committed on young women in Guyana, according to probation and family welfare officer, Anne Green. The Guyana human rights commission reported a study which shows 9 convictions out of 647 cases in the judicial system for the past five years. Our magistrates, judges and the government should bow their heads in shame. What type of society allows such statistics to prevail? Why this issue has not garnered the attention of the many commentators who fill the pages of the print media and television anchor rooms with divisive issues? While they defend African resistance fighters and drug lords, poor young women are being raped. Why is it that communities and organizations are not taking to the streets demanding justice for these women?

Reported cases of rape increased from 117 in 2000 to 154 in 2004 according to the GHRA study. There have already been in excess of a hundred cases of reported rape for the first haft of this year, and these numbers do not account for the unreported cases which usually are twice the amount in societies where victims feel they have no protection in the administration of justice. In addition, statutory rape, incest and sodomy are on the increase. Young women are molested with impunity in the mini buses, in the bars and wherever and whenever these malicious men feel necessary.

If perpetrators of rape in Guyana are not investigated and brought to justice, if there is no recourse for women then most likely they will not be encouraged to report cases of rape. Women want to know there is legal protection for them. They want to be assured that when they report cases of rape their identities will not be revealed by the media or the police. They do not want their cases to be tried in an open court where their identity is revealed to all. Guyana is a small society and the social stigma attached to rape victims can be suspicious, relentless and unforgiving at times, and this is especially traumatic to young women who form the majority of victims. It is important that rape victims and their families receive the necessary counseling. The welfare department and social services need to be adequately funded and equipped with trained rape specialists and psychologist made available to rape victims. Police officers need to be trained not only in gathering evidence in rape cases but more importantly in sensitivity toward victims. There is need for more crisis centers and women support groups, and financial support made available for them to facilitate their work. The crime of rape can be a life long scar for victims, especial if there is no post counseling.

The Guyana human rights association recommended last year that a special court be set up to deal with rape cases. To date this recommendation has gone unheeded. Is our society so callous and chauvinistic that it does not care about women? There have recently been announcements to set up a business court, when there is hardly any business going on in Guyana but with sexual violence against women escalating, no consideration is given to their plight. The city of New Delhi, India, which has a population of 15 million finds the figure of 300 reported cases of rape alarming in 2003 and found it necessary to setup special courts with women judges and women prosecutors to deal with rape and other sexually related offenses. The thinking is that victims feel more comfortable before women judges. It is indeed true that men can be insensitive towards alleged rape victims, especially in a society like Guyana, with the social stigma attached to rape victims. Guyana with a population of 750,000 and 100 reported cases of rape for the first half of the year operates as business as usual.

There is urgent need for legal reform to deal with rape cases and the perpetrators. Too often the onus is put on women to demonstrate virtue as a requisite to them proving allegations of rape. The focus must be put on the rapist and the culture that produces them. No woman can invite rape upon herself no matter how short the skirt she may wear, and her sexual history.

I urge all Guyanese to take action. The fact that it has not happened to your daughters should not prevent you from being outraged. Women, it is your responsibility to organize yourselves for action. Men these victims can be your sisters, mothers and daughters. I urge overseas based Guyanese support groups to put this issue on their agendas for discussion and action. Women groups in Guyana need the financial support to combat this menace. The time has come for us to take action and protect women in our society.

Yours faithfully

Dennis Wiggins

Friday, June 16, 2006

-- outgoing British High Commissioner

BRITISH High Commissioner Mr. Stephen Hiscock believes the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is capable of and can deliver elections in Guyana, as commissions have successfully done in the past.

“I firmly believe that GECOM can deliver these elections. They have the capability and have the support of a number of international advisers with wide experience of elections in other countries,” Hiscock stressed.

“GECOM have done this before, and despite the logistical nightmare of holding elections in some of the most inaccessible and far-flung corners of the country, they have run them (elections) successfully,” the outgoing British envoy noted Wednesday night.

He yesterday repeated that he is satisfied that GECOM preparations for the upcoming general elections are on course.

During a farewell call on Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran, the diplomat also expressed optimism that the voting will go ahead as planned.

Hiscock told the Guyana Chronicle that information received from the Joint International Technical Assessors (JITA) indicates that GECOM is moving ahead according to its schedule.

Addressing a gala reception in Georgetown on Wednesday night to celebrate the official birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, he hoped for an elections campaign where issues of real importance can be discussed.

“I hope that the country can get down to an election campaign where issues of real importance can be discussed, leading to an election day which, in the presence of international and local independent observers, will be regarded as free and fair by all,” he said.

Hiscock also assured that the British government remains fully committed to assisting GECOM in order to help keep the election process firmly on track and to ensure that it is credible to the electorate.

According to him, it is the “credibility of the electoral process that is key” to the successful holding of free, fair and transparent elections.

The British High Commissioner, who retires from the diplomatic service this year after having completed more than 40 years of service and whose tenure as High Commissioner to Guyana ended yesterday, said he is disappointed that he will not be here for the elections.

“The elections will soon be upon us (and) I am disappointed that I will not be here for them but the date of my birthday and retirement meant that that was not to be. Wherever I am, however, I will be following events very closely,” he told President Bharrat Jagdeo and others at the Queen’s birthday party.

He noted that 2006 is indeed a special year for Her Majesty, who turned 80 on April 21 and has now reigned for more than half a century. She is the second longest serving head of state in the world today and is one of the most travelled heads of state in history.

Hiscock also indicated that 2006 is somewhat of a special year for him as he retires from the diplomatic service. He recalled having joined the Foreign Office in 1965 at the time when the Constitutional Conference was being held in London to lay the groundwork for the independence of Guyana.

Since then he has served in Malaysia, Zambia, Pakistan, Korea, and Australia. 𠇋ut it is Guyana that has a special place in my heart,” the British High Commissioner said

“Most of you will know that this is the second time that Dee (wife) and I have served here. We have grown to love the people of this country and very much like Her Majesty and Prince Philip, we have been touched by the kindness and warmth of welcome of the Guyanese people.”

“It is our greatest wish that this country and its people should have the peace and prosperity they so richly deserve,” he told the gathering.

Hiscock said the nine years that he served here have been “full of wonderful and unforgettable memories”. 𠇏rom the very first time that I stood spell-bound watching the Potaro River descend from the Pakaraima mountains in a single fall of over 700 feet at Kaieteur Falls, to the breathtaking beauty as the forest gives way to savannah in the Rupununi. From the expectation and excitement at the swearing in of Dr. Cheddi Jagan in 1992 to the misery and discomfort brought to so many people by the flooding in 2005. All these moments will live in my memory alongside those from the 40 years I have been in the Diplomatic Service.”

Noting that Guyana too is celebrating 40 years since it achieved independence from the United Kingdom, Hiscock told the gathering many have coined the phrase “life begins at 40”, but there is a thoughtful quote from Benjamin Franklin which says that “At 20 years of age the will reigns; at 30 the wit; at 40 the judgement”.

“I call on all Guyanese to use that judgement based on forty years of experience in the weeks and months to come – not to judge on the basis of race, but on the basis of what an individual can do for the benefit of the people of Guyana as a whole, and on the basis of policies that can really make a difference to the future development of this wonderful country,” he said.

The British envoy, however, indicated that he is leaving Guyana with a sense of a job not quite finished.

“As I said earlier I would have preferred to remain here at least until the elections had been held and maybe longer to see, amongst other things, the implementation of the constitutional reforms which will be so necessary to build on the democratic foundations which have been established in this country.”

“But leave I must and I commend this beautiful country of Guyana and its people to my successor Fraser Wheeler who I know will enjoy his time here enormously,” he added.

Guyana Chronicle

Roger Khan

In a dramatic turn of events, Suriname police yesterday afternoon arrested fugitive businessman, Shaheed 'Roger' Khan and three ex-policemen, one of whom is wanted by local authorities, as part of a huge drug bust that netted more than 200 kilos of cocaine.

Khan's lawyer, Glenn Hanoman confirmed to Stabroek News last night that the businessman along with, ex-policemen, Paul Rodrigues and Sean Belfield had been held. Stabroek News understands, too, that another man who identified himself as Lloyd was also arrested in the house raid.

According to reports, Suriname police held Khan, Rodrigues, Belfield and another Guyanese who is said to be an ex-policeman in a house with a semi-automatic weapon. Hanoman said in addition to that report he also heard too that the men were held in a drug bust but he could not confirm this himself. Hanoman was not prepared to make any other statement on the arrest of the men.

Local police had issued wanted bulletins for Khan, Rodrigues, Ricardo Rodrigues and Gerald Perreira after raids on their properties had unearthed illegal items.

The men through their lawyers had challenged the bulletins and this is now a subject of court proceedings. A US Grand Jury sitting in Brooklyn, New York recently indicted Khan on the charge of conspiring to import cocaine into the US.

Ever since the bulletins were issued, Khan and the others went into hiding and there was speculation that he had fled to Suriname or Venezuela. He has also been making numerous statements through his lawyers since then claiming that he helped fight crime during the escapee-led crime wave in 2002-3 and was also capable of preventing a coup against the government. These statements appeared to be intended to whip up public support and to stave off any attempt to hand him over to the US authorities. Many also believe that he is behind the releasing of taped conversations allegedly between Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix and other persons. He has also been taking on the joint services, the main opposition, the PNCR and the US government.

Stabroek News was told that the fourth man who gave his name as Lloyd had no travel documents and also identified himself to Surinamese police as Persaud, a spokesperson for the Suriname Police Corps, John Jones told Stabroek News last night from Paramaribo. Jones said that the bust was made in the afternoon and as a result investigators were unable to find out more about the man. He said that by today the suspects would be fully identified.

The de Ware Tijd (DWT) newspaper of Suriname last night also confirmed to Stabroek News that seven persons, including the Guyanese, were arrested and 213 kilos of cocaine were found after police raided two houses in central Paramaribo. DWT said that the raids were conducted after a long period of surveillance. The houses are located in a residential area. The first raid was carried out at 10:30 am, and 109 kilos of cocaine were recovered. Two hours later, police raided another location not too far away and 104 kilos were recovered.

Khan and several other men connected to him have been on the run since the joint service stepped up searches for the missing AK-47 rifles stolen from the Guyana Defence Force storage bond late in February. It was suspected that some of the men had fled to neighbouring Suriname in an effort to avoid being captured.

The US although issuing an arrest warrant for Khan has not made any request for extradition for him to face trial in the US. It is expected that once he is processed in Suriname and extradited to Guyana the US would want to have him turned over to them.

Rodrigues and Belfield, both ex-policemen, have been controversial figures ever since they were dismissed from the force. Belfield back in 2002 was apprehended along with Khan and Haroon Yahya at Good Hope with a cache of high-powered arms and ammunition. They were taken to court, but the matter was dismissed. Rodrigues was also arrested following an arms find and his case was also dismissed in the magistrate's court.

Up to late last night local law enforcers were still to be officially advised of the arrest of the Guyanese quartet.

Stabroek News

Mayor Brian U. Stratton
Mayor Brian U. Stratton

Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Thurs. June 15, 2006: Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton is continuing a campaign started by his predecessor to get Guyanese migrants to move from New York City to his upstate town.

Stratton came to New York City last weekend to try to sell more Guyanese on the advantages of moving to Schenectady. At the Kaieteur Restaurant in Richmond Hill, Queens, Stratton shared his vision of the future of the area with about 35 Guyanese nationals.

Many have already bought into the push from his predecessor, Mayor Albert Jurczynski and moved to the area, taking advantage of lower property costs.

But Stratton, according to the Times Union, says there are more houses to be bought, as property prices are about 80 percent cheaper than in New York City.

Schenectady recently achieved a financial milestone after returning to an investment-grade credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service. Two years ago, Schenectady held the single lowest credit rating of any municipality in New York.

Stratton became mayor in 2004 and said his administration inherited what could only be described as a fiscal train wreck. He said Schenectady’s cumulative deficit was projected at more than $10 million, its credit rating was at rock bottom, and the state comptroller was predicting the city would run out of money in a matter of months.

But he said in 24 months, the projected $10.2 million deficit has been eliminated and they finished 2005 with a combined funds surplus of nearly $5 million.

And he says now its time to court more property owners and residents to the area, no doubt a political and economic move aimed at increasing the city’s property tax rolls. –

History This Week

In the last article the accession of Guyanese women to decision-making positions in the hierarchy of political parties, as Members of Parliament and ministers of Government since political independence was examined. The figures reveal that the numbers of women in all of the above mentioned areas have fluctuated over the period and are not in keeping with Guyana's international, regional and national commitments.

Among the reasons which have constrained more Guyanese women, like women worldwide, from achieving or even aspiring to positions of power and decision-making are the continued dichotomy of women's role: perceived as being in the private arena and men's in the public, lingering vestiges of patriarchy and cultural and religions attitudes. These are compounded by the negative impacts of globalization and structural adjustments on women, the double burden of work exacerbated by lack of relevant training, lack of funds for financing electoral campaigns and lack of support from other women.

In this article women in the local government system, the trade unions, the public service, and on public boards and commissions will be discussed.

Another source from which Members of Parliament are drawn is the local government system.

In 1980, when the regional system was introduced none of the ten regional chairmen was a woman. In 1985, 2 of eight were women; 1992-93, one of 10 was a woman. Since 1998 none of the 10 chairpersons of the Regional Democratic Council have been women. In respect of the Neighourhood Councils in 1998, 3 of 65 chairpersons were women; 1999-2000, 2 of 65; and 2001/2002 4 of 65 were women.

Before 1980, there were two women mayors of the municipality of Georgetown.

After the introduction of the regional system and the increase in municipalities two of five mayors have been women; 1985, 1 of 5; 1992-1998, 1 of 6. Since then

no woman has held the position of Mayor anywhere. There is a clear gender imbalance at all levels of the decision-making process.

Women also have a minor presence in the higher echelons of the Trade Union movement.

Olga Byrne served as President of the Guyana Teachers Union from 1961 to 1963 and 1968 to 1970 while Jean Persico was President from 1980 to 1986. In 1967, frustrated by the continued discrimination in the movement, a group of women Trade Unionists passed a resolution requesting that women be selected in equal numbers as men to attend Education Seminars and that the Women's Advisory Committee (WAC) be represented on the committee of the Critchlow Labour College.

Indeed the WAC, whose first leader was Ms. Vivienne Surrey was not given status as one of the standing committees of the TUC until 1969.

Three decades after that famous resolution a survey was conducted among 18 Trade Unions which showed that there were more men than women in seven of the Trade Unions, while women outnumbered men in 9 of the unions.

However, only 27% of them had women as presidents and in one union no woman had ever served in its hierarchy even though it was then almost fifty years old.

55% of them had women General-Secretaries, while 22% had a woman treasurer. Today women make up the majority in 16 trade unions.

One of these is the Public Service Union. No doubt because of its strength in the public sector which still dominates over 60% of the economy, its leadership continues to be dominated by men. However, a woman has been acting General Secretary for several years, but the appointment smacks more of tokenism than a serious attempt to include representative numbers of women in the union's hierarchy. It is ironic that the GTU with its 66% female membership briefly had a woman as president who has been replaced by a man. On the other hand, the change in certain sections of the work force, like that of the Post Office, from being predominantly men to predominantly women has led to two successive terms for women, as president of the GPTW union. Perhaps part of the reason for the insignificant penetration by women into the hierarchy of the Trade Union movement is that our potential women Trade Union leaders and women members are sending mixed messages. In the aforementioned survey, many of the factors listed at the beginning of this article were cited including the active hostility of men for women who competed for key positions in Trade Unions, and women themselves being less supportive of their female counterparts who competed for positions of leadership. There was also the inference that Guyanese women seem content to sit back and allow men to provide leadership for the Trade Union Movement. The Guyana Teachers Union is certainly going through a period of extreme militancy with constant confrontations with government. Did the 66% female membership of that union recently revert to a man as president because they believe or have been led to believe that only a man can lead them in this period of crisis?

The trends and figures from our public service predict how slim are the chances of many Guyanese women achieving high decision-making positions in government through a career in the civil service. At independence, the discriminatory practices with women not being permitted to enter the service as clerks but only as secretarial staff and women having to leave the service when they married were abolished.

However, thirty years after independence the trends indicated (1996-2000) that men outnumbered women 3:1 in the highest two salary bands. They also outnumbered women in the lowest salary bands.

But in the two highest bands where managers have decision-making power and are better remunerated the trend continues to move away from women i.e. from 1:3 in favour of men in 1996 to 1:5 in 2000. However, women are gaining parity with men in the lowest band. The most important civil servant in any ministry is the Permanent Secretary followed by the Deputy Permanent Secretary.

In Guyana's 2000 CEDAW report it is stated that in 1998/1999, 3 of 11 Permanent Secretaries were women, in 2000, 4 of 15 were women and 2001 to the present 4 of 18 are women. In the case of Deputy Permanent Secretaries between 1998-2000 2 of 14 were women and from 2001 to the present, 3 of 18 are women. Hence, despite the "feminization" of the civil service women might never reach the goal of 50%, much more dominate its highest levels of decision-making.

The composition of Committees and Commissions demonstrate both the continuing trend of male dominance in decision-making positions and female penetration of the hierarchy. The National Awards Committee was set up about the mid 1970's to make recommendations to government as to potential beneficiaries of national awards.

In 2002, only one of the seven members was a woman. At that time both the lone female member and the male secretary to the committee lamented the fact that so few women nominated women for national awards.

Guyanese women are therefore not even utilizing the limited opportunities to showcase influential Guyanese women and so promote them as potential decision-makers.

The Police and Teaching Service Commissions are constitutional bodies set up for hiring, promoting, disciplining, terminating and retiring persons in those professions.

In the Public and Teaching Service female employees are in the majority. Women also make up a significant minority in the police. Since 1998, there has been no woman on either the police or public service commission. Encouragingly, since 1998 the National Commission on the Rights of the Child has had up to 75% female membership. However, it must be remembered that while the decision makers in respect of activities and initiatives might be women, the all important financial resources needed to implement the initiatives rest firmly in the hands of men in the Ministry of Finance who tend to put on the back burner such initiatives unless they are donor sponsored and driven. The Teaching Service Commission since 1998 has had from 40% to 50% female membership but its president is invariably a man.

It is hoped that despite this the women can bring a proper gender perspective to bear on its deliberations. In keeping with its pledge while in opposition to reform the 1980 People's Constitution that it felt had been imposed by an illegitimate government, a Constitution Reform Com-mission (CRC) of 20 persons was set up by the present administration after its second victory at the polls in 1997. It included different stakeholders in the society, the four major political parties PPP/C (5 persons) the PNC (3 persons), The United Force and Working People's Alliance one person each.

Despite the pledges made by both major parties about ending discrimination against women, neither party saw fit to name a woman as a representative.

The only two women originally in the CRC were the representatives of the indigenous population and women's organizations. The two were later joined by one other from the ruling PPP/C after a male member withdrew. The Oversight Committee tasked with converting the submissions into constitutional amendments had no woman.

The conclusion to be drawn is that clearly there seems to be a lack of will on the part of the male-dominated decision-making hierarchy to implement changes which would increase women's numbers in the halls of power, and decision-making which may seriously threaten the bastions of male dominance.

Stabroek News

Felix court move reckless - Teixeira
Gail Teixeira

Home Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira last night condemned Top Cop Winston Felix's move to the courts to block questions by Prime Minister Sam Hinds on controversial tape recordings as "reckless" and undermining his professionalism.

She also excoriated Felix's charge that the government and embattled businessman Roger Khan appear to be on the same wavelength in trying to expel him from office. "I would like to disclose to the Commissioner of Police how erroneous his conclusions are and the height of recklessness he has publicly displayed in making those unworthy claims", Teixeira said in the statement issued at 9 pm.

It was the latest high-voltage contretemps to flow from tape recordings circulated by persons close to drug-accused businessman Khan. The recordings have unleashed a storm of controversy enmeshing Khan, Felix, the PM, Teixeira, the US embassy and the PNCR among others. Teixeira's statement came on the same day she, Felix and other top security officials made a rare visit to the crime-besieged village of Buxton. (See other story on page 11.)

On Tuesday, Felix approached the High Court and sought orders seeking to quash Prime Minister Hinds' decision to send a letter to him on June 2 setting out a host of allegations derived from the tapes and asking him to respond urgently. Lawyers for Felix are also seeking an order prohibiting the PM from proceeding with any investigation for the purpose of whether to advise President Bharrat Jagdeo to appoint a tribunal to investigate his possible removal as Commissioner of Police. (See other story on page 12.)

In his affidavit in support of the motion, Felix made a number of controversial statements including that it "…appears to me that the Government of Guyana has adopted Mr Khan's stated objectives and has purportedly commenced invocation of the constitutional provisions to effect my removal from office". He also alleged that the PM had abdicated his constitutional responsibility through being influenced by unnamed third parties.

Winston Felix

Teixeira fired back last night. In a five-page statement she noted that it was only on June 9 when asked by the media for her opinion on Felix she had said that he was a professional and had given her support in her functions as the Minister of Home Affairs. Referring to his pleadings in court which were reported in yesterday's Stabroek News, Teixeira said "if the Commissioner of Police has nothing to hide and the disclosures on the tapes are all forgeries, surely in the face of mounting public concern he would see merit in not opposing an investigation as laid out in the constitution".

She said many Guyanese have been shocked and affronted by the revelations on the tapes. "So serious were those disclosures such as, shielding criminals, conspiring to divert attention from criminals, aiding and abetting unlawful actions and planting drugs on innocent people, that no one questioned the government's responsible action in seeking external technical and professional advice on the matter".

She declared that what Felix appeared to be overlooking in his court pleadings was that since the release of the first tape in March - allegedly of him and PNCR Vice-Chairman, Basil Williams - "neither by commission or omission has the government sought to constrain the Commissioner of Police and the Joint Services from discharging their statutory functions with regards to law enforcement interventions".

Teixeira added that the joint operations which began after the disappearance of 30 AK-47s from the army's headquarters led to "raids on the properties of persons allegedly involved in narcotics as well as those known to the public and internationally in the narco-trade on March 19. The Commissioner cannot allege or accuse the government of any attempt to interfere in this process".

The government has also not tampered in any way with the joint services battle against armed bandits, hijackers, fuel smugglers and gun runners in their search for the weapons missing from the army or the capturing of the members of the Buxton or other armed gangs, Teixeira contended.

The Home Affairs Minister who also delivered the statement last night on NCN TV argued "in fact, what the Commissioner is fully aware of has been the government's timely and heightened moral, financial and logistical support for him and the Joint Services, in their response to criminal activities".

Moreover, since the release of the tapes, the loss of the GDF weapons and the murder of Minister Satyadeow Sawh and others, the government has funnelled a further $20M to the joint services for intelligence gathering, authorized the deploying of the army in the crime fight and mobilized international aid for the crime investigations, Teixeira said.

Citing his now famous refrain to `hold me accountable' when he was sworn in as Police Commissioner, Teixeira said "Many hard working policemen and women are facing the loss of credibility of their organization, the Guyana Police Force, It is that context that the Commissioner is ignoring".

Upping the pressure on Felix, she noted that the commissioner had not yet responded to Khan's public statements that he (Khan) shared a once "cozy relationship" with the Top Cop.

"On the surface, it seems that the Commissioner has embarked on an unprofessional course of action, seeking to discredit the Prime Minister and the administration while using the courts and other technicalities to stave off an investigation into his conduct".

Teixeira, who replaced the now High Commissioner to India, Ronald Gajraj as Home Affairs Minister around a year ago, posited that by inference and words Felix had "unprofessionally and (precipitately)" petitioned the courts, thereby prejudging the actions of the PM and the President.

"Most unacceptably, he went further to accuse the Prime Minister of abdicating his constitutional responsibilities and taking actions governed by partisan political interests", Teixeira argued.

Without identifying anyone, she said the commissioner's apparent preoccupation with a battle with Khan had nurtured an opportunity "for those who have unmistakable partisan political agendas to lead him to this confrontational and unmitigated attack on the government. He has cast his lot with a partisan political outlook".

The emergence of the tapes has posed two dilemmas for the government which are still unresolved. Are the tapes authentic and can it be proven who the speakers are? And who is behind the tapes, what risks this poses to national security and whether this is not an attempt to discredit the Commissioner and thereby ease the pressure from underworld figures. The first tape was released after several establishments belonging to Khan were raided by the police/army in search of the weapons. In turn, these raids came after Khan had played several of these tapes for officials of the US DEA to hear at the Ocean View Hotel. That meeting had followed the indictment of Khan on a drug charge by a New York Grand Jury. Observers said the Ocean View meet was a bid by Khan to counter any attempt by the Americans to pursue proceedings against him and he therefore decided to play the Felix tapes. The police had also issued wanted bulletins for Khan and three others which are being challenged in court.

There are also credible reports that tapes from the same source exist of Teixeira and Felix and that these could be released at some point.

Felix for his part has maintained that there is no proof that the recordings are authentic and he has said that a key, possibly incriminating segment was spliced to produce the desired result. That conversation is contained on the second tape and makes it seem that there would be an attempt to plant drugs on a theft suspect. It was from that point onwards that the furore mushroomed.

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