Investigation into employment practices at GECOM in progress- ERC

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File photo: President Granger flanked by the 10 new ERC members following their swearing-in earlier in 2018

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) says it is currently in the process of investigating employment practices at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

According to the ERC, a special investigative team was established following a complaint lodged by the three GECOM Commissioners appointed by the Opposition.

Moreover, it was outlined that the team is headed by Retired Justice, Stanley Moore and includes Human Resources Consultant, Jairam Petam and former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Lloyd Smith.

“The three-man team was given a period of three weeks for the completion of the investigation and submission of a report. However, during the process, they requested an extension which has been granted. The ERC will provide further details as they become available” a statement from the entity said.

People’s Progressive Party (PPP) GECOM Commissioners Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn, and Bibi Shaddick had filed complaints with the ERC over alleged biases in employment practices at the GECOM. They argue that a vast majority of the staff at GECOM are persons of one ethnic group.

The PPP Commissioners claim that GECOM Chairman James Patterson had prevented Commissioner Robeson Benn, who had initially raised the ethnic bias complaint, from further defending his position; and when challenged, had adjourned a meeting for over half an hour.

Their allegations were followed by an earlier statement made by executive member of the PPP, Dr Roger Luncheon, who made allegations against the GECOM regarding the same issue.

He said it was brought to his attention that People’s National Congress (PNC) Commissioners are allegedly engaged in a process to eliminate certain candidates applying for advertised positions at the Secretariat.

In addition, he said, it would seem that Government Commissioners were aiming at such an objective by resorting to “giving low-to-zero scores to candidates of Indian origin who are shortlisted during the interview process, while providing high-to-100 per cent scores to their preferred candidates”.

Further, the former Head of the Presidential Secretariat also alleged that the Commissioners were finding extraneous reasons for eliminating top candidates of Indian origin from appointment to positions.

Meanwhile, the ERC since it was re-established earlier this year, continues in its efforts to engage national stakeholders across the country.

Recently, ERC Commissioners met with senior officials of the Guyana Defence Force, the Police and the Guyana Fire and Prison Services. Councillors of the Regional Democratic Councils of Regions 2, 3, 5 and 10 were also visited by the ERC at their respective offices at Anna Regina, Essequibo, West Demerara, Fort Wellington, West Coast Berbice and McKenzie, Linden.

“Meaningful discussions on the promotion of harmony, unity and good relations were held and agreements reached for collaboration on this national venture. Related suggestions were also offered for the ERC’s consideration in delivering its mandate. Similar meetings are planned for other Regions this month” said the ERC.

The ERC has already met with President David Granger; Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo; representatives from the ten constituencies from which it is constituted; some Diplomatic missions and the Private Sector Commission.

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