I refer to an article in Stabroek News on Saturday 18th January, titled ‘ERC cites Harmon, Edghill for alleged racist remarks on campaign trail’. As a citizen of Guyana and a candidate to the poll on the PPP/C list for the March 2nd General and Regional Elections, I wish to state the following:
- I am appalled and deeply distressed that a constitutional commission like the Ethnic Relations Commission will inform me and the public by way of a press conference that I am under investigation for a racial slur made at the PPP/C Kitty rally and the said commission lacks the decency, ethics, or principled behaviour to even notify me formally and prior that there is an alleged infraction by me and an investigation has been launched.
- I am unaware of any racial slur emanating from my lips at anytime, anywhere whatsoever. Is the ERC announcement of an investigation of a statement by Juan Edghill a manufactured controversy that is designed to satisfy an end known only to operatives within the commission?
- As a former Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission, I believe I am well versed with a deep understanding of the Representation of the People Act, the Racial Hostility Act and other constitutional provisions and statutes that address the issue of inciting and exciting racial hostility among the people. It is either that the current commissioners of the ERC are ill-advised, ill-informed, misguided or they have refused to inform themselves that would have led to the reporting that is alleged to have come from the commission at their press conference.
- Have the commissioners of the Ethnic Relations Commission lost their independence, their impartiality or they lack the moral fortitude to stand up to political pressure and they are succumbing to political direction to launch a personal attack against me. I have only recently, had cause to make complaints to the chairman about the personal attack by a commissioner.
- I am prepared at any time and at any place to stand public scrutiny by an impartial body.
What has happened to the principles of natural justice? An announcement to the public that a party is under investigation when there has been no notification is tantamount to an attack on that party and an attempt to impugn character. I therefore expect a full unequivocal apology from the ERC and a retraction of the statements made forthwith.
Once the feathers of a fowl have been plucked and blown asunder by the wind even if it is gathered cannot be reunited usefully with the fowl. I am not viewing this as a misstep or a mistake; this is more than likely a calculated move. Such behaviour must not be allowed to continue unchecked.
Bishop Juan Edghill