LETTER: Members of the public should be allowed to observe Parliamentary proceedings

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Dear Editor,

The National Assembly – elected Parliamentarians – sits in the Chamber housed at PUBLIC BUILDINGS (or Parliament as it is more commonly called), yet for whatever reason, this government seems intent on making sure that no member of the Guyanese public can visit the House.

There is a public gallery in the Chambers where Guyanese are allowed to sit and observe the proceedings of any sitting of the National Assembly. Guyanese have this right.

However, what obtains is that police officers are positioned at cordons (expanded cordons at that) surrounding Public Buildings and they demand “passes” from members of the public. Other than reporters and media people, I am not sure what “passes” members of the public are required to have.  Why are police officers harassing members of the public? Is this an instruction from Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan? Is this the intention of his government?

Editor, if you do manage to get past the police cordons (after a tedious process of explaining to the police officer that you have a right to sit in the public gallery), you have to face another set of cordons. The entire parking area, which used to be available to members of the public, outside Public Buildings is cordoned off. The parking area is not used. It is just blocked off.

So then, what you face is: first, a hassle to get past the police cordons; and second, no place to park. You end up frustrated and you leave.

Is this the intention of the government? To deny Guyanese access to Public Buildings? To ensure that there is no transparency?

Now, Government may argue that the LACK OF ACCESS argument (and this is the case, there is a lack of access to the National Assembly) is superseded by security considerations. However, there are security checks done, if you are lucky enough to enter the gates of Public Buildings – you have to go through a scanner, your bag is checked and you have to lodge your name with the security official on duty.  In this case, government cannot expect Guyanese to buy this argument about security.

Editor, that said, I wish to stress that the problem now is that we have a government that seems intent on blocking member of the public, who sit to observe sittings of the House, from access Public Buildings.  There is a lack of access. And this seems to be a trend with the APNU/AFC government – lack of access, lack of information, etc.

Sincerely,

Cedric Lord

 

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