The nation would recall that on the 9th day of May 2017, a Kaieteur News headline stated, “Over 200 persons blacklisted from leaving Guyana – SOCU.” This information caused great concern, restlessness among our people and was widely believed.
The article prompted my immediate action. As a citizen and a representative of the people, I wrote to the Commissioner of Police/Chief Immigration Officer to determine the veracity of the article and to make available to the public the true information of this administration’s position and action on blacklisting. Significantly, after approximately two weeks and no reply from the Commissioner of Police/Chief Immigration Officer I wrote to Justice Charles Ramson Snr (Rt’d), Commissioner of Information requesting the names of the 200 persons blacklisted by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
The Commissioner of Police via the Public Relations Officer of the Guyana Police Force subsequently issued a press release some three (3) weeks after the fact. While we welcome the public statement from the Guyana Police Force that debunked the misinformation that emanated from Kaieteur News stating that this is nothing but a fabrication, my question is why this press release was not issued sooner, since the publication (Kaieteur News) cited SOCU as their source. The GPF press release suggested that SOCU have not blacklisted some 200 persons from leaving Guyana.
Therefore, the credibility of Kaieteur News is on the line. Is this public mischief? Was this designed to achieve a political agenda or is this the modus operandi of Kaieteur News to publish ‘fake news’? Kaieteur News is now pressed to clarify with the public their source of information or issue a public apology to the nation for providing misinformation and creating public panic. We expect the Police Commissioner, a responsible constitutional office to be forth right with the people of Guyana. This switch and bait strategy that was employed and has proven to be ineffective; it has now been exposed and the nation can see the true nature of this particular media house as it relates to its sensational headlines and accompanying stories.
However, the Commissioner of Police has assured that the information requested by me has been dispatched to Justice Charles Ramson Snr (Rt’d), Commissioner of Information. I await Justice Ramson’s formal reply.
More significantly, we are relieved that the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens are not being trampled upon by this reported alleged illegal action by SOCU. We will continue to be on watch however as it relates to this matter, to ensure the rights of our people as enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana are protected.
Bishop Juan A Edghill, PPP/C MP