The Guyana Bar Association has called on the Government to mount an inquiry into the event or series of events of December 30, 2015 that led to the death of three persons, including army intelligence officer Robert Pyle.
The circumstances surrounding the death of the army officer has been shrouded in controversy and has been one of the hot topics of discussion over the past several days, more specifically as it relates to numerous conflicting reports that have emerged about the covert operation he was involved in at the time of his demise.
During the bungled covert operation that involved a high-speed vehicular chase, the GDF Officer’s vehicle reportedly slammed into a canter truck on Carifesta Avenue resulting in the death of three persons, including his wife Stacy, along with the driver of the canter, Linden Eas
Following is the full text of the statement issued by the Guyana Bar Association:
The death of three persons, a serving member of the Guyana Defence Force and two private citizens, has brought into sharp focus Operation Dragnet announced by Minister of State Joseph Harmon last month. At a post-Cabinet press briefing on December 2, 2015, Mr. Harmon announced that the Operation, a Joint Services effort, will last from December 1, 2015 to June 1, 2016.
The deaths and their surrounding circumstances are cause for the gravest concern among
citizens. It has now been confirmed that at the time of the officer’s death he was engaged in a surveillance operation which it is now known was directed at a public servant who is on leave. The Bar Association believes that an explanation is required for the use of GDF
officers to engage in such activities and the legality thereof.
Operational control of the Defence Force vests solely in the Chief of Staff, but subject to the general or specific directions of the President. The Defence Force is charged with the
defence of and maintenance of order in Guyana and with such other duties defined by the
Defence Board. The President is the Commander-in-Chief and Chairman of the Defence
Board which includes the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs, now Public
In announcing the Operation, Mr. Harmon disclosed that it involved the Guyana Defence
Force, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Fire Service, all of which operate under separate Acts of Parliament and exercise different functions. The Guyana Bar Association believes that the State has a duty to explain and justify the role of the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Fire Service in the Operation.
So far as the use of the Guyana Defence Force in civilian activities is concerned, where there is a situation involving violent crime beyond the capacity of the Police, the Commissioner may request the Commander in Chief to deploy the Military in support for specific missions and within specific Police Divisions. The Chief of Staff, as Chairman of the Joint Services Coordinating Committee, makes his own assessment known to the Commander in Chief in order to justify the deployment of specific elements of the GDF.
It is against this background that the Guyana Bar Association considers it necessary to call upon the Government to mount an inquiry into the event or series of events of December 30,
2015 that led to the death of three persons. Those raise serious questions that go to the
foundational principle of the rule of law including:
- The level of sanctity of human life;
- The extent of the right to secure protection of the law including the holding of
independent inquiries into the loss of human life;
- The importance of citizens being able to go about their lives and business peaceably;
- The recognition and regard for the privacy and private life of an individual;
- The duty of the State to act in conformity with the law and to protect its citizens;
- The role and function of the Guyana Defence Force, a body established under the
Defence Act to carry out its responsibilities set out in the Constitution;
- The role, duties and functions of the Guyana Police Force and the Commissioner of
Police in these circumstances;
- The establishment and operation of SOCU, its legal underpinning, staffing and
- Wrongful death, criminal liability, civil Liability, immunity and appropriate redress;
- The scope, operational procedures, reporting lines and accountability of Operation
Dragnet which was announced not by the Commissioner of Police but following a
meeting of the Cabinet.
The Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force has announced that the events of December 30, 2015 were part of a legitimate operation. By contrast, the nation waits to hear from the Commissioner of Police who is the statutory authority to initiate the call for assistance from the Defence Force. Similarly, since Operation Dragnet was described as a response to concerns about public security, the Bar Association considers it incumbent for the Minister of Public Security to address the nation on the matter.
President Granger has announced that he does not consider that a full probe is necessary
because a member of the Guyana Defence Force was on an “official mission”. With due
respect to the President, the Bar Association fundamentally disagrees with such a position.
At the very least, the law requires a Coroner’s Inquest into the death of the three citizens
while the ten issues identified above are so serious and fundamental to the normal
functioning of a democratic state that they require a proper, independent Commission of
The President is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and Chairman of the Defence
Board. He would wish to avoid any perception of any conflict of interest, undue influence or political interference in the operations of the Disciplined Services, or of an operation that went horribly wrong.