‘Be heard if you so desire’ – COI will allow persons to defend their reputation
The ongoing Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the March 02, 2020 elections intend to accommodate persons interested in responding to statements and comments that may have adversely affected them during the ongoing testimonies.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Commission’s Secretariat acknowledged that as the evidence unfolds in the inquiry, people’s reputations could be injured.
As a consequence, Chairman of the CoI, Justice of the Appeal (retired) of Turks and Caicos Stanley John has made it public that affected persons are entitled to appear before the commission and be heard if they so desire.
“Anyone who is interested in appearing before the Commission and/or to be represented before the Commission should write to the Secretary to the Commission making that request,” the statement advised.
As the inquiry proceeds, the Secretary of the Commission will write to those persons against whom any allegation of impropriety has been made, setting out the details of the allegations and inviting such persons to appear before the Commission and providing a fair opportunity to such persons to comment on any adverse comment or allegation made against them.
The public hearings in the CoI began on Friday, November 04, 2022, and will last until January 2023. So far four persons have given testimony before the CoI.
Meanwhile, Justice John and the two other Commissioners – former Chancellor of the Judiciary (Guyana), Carl Singh and High Court Judge (Belize) and former Justice of Appeal (ag) in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Godfrey P. Smith – have rejected the accusation that they were involved in the drafting of the Terms of Reference for the CoI.
“It has come to the attention of the Commissioners that a suggestion has arisen in the public domain that the terms of reference of this Commission of Inquiry were being worked on and drafted by the Commissioners before they were appointed on September 13th, 2022,” the statement noted.
The Commissioners used the opportunity to categorically state that at no time were they ever involved in the drafting of the Terms of Reference that was published in the Official Gazette on September 13, 2022.
The CoI is to determine what went wrong during the elections and who was responsible. The Commissioners in their report expected by March 2023 will also make recommendations for fixing the electoral system.