The Parliamentary Opposition’s intention to engage the Commissioner of Police to not arrest house-to-house objectors is the same as asking the police to not execute the laws of the land, says Finance Minister Winston Jordan.
The Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C) intention to approach the commissioner was conveyed by the party’s leader Bharrat Jagdeo at a news conference hosted at his Church Street, Georgetown office yesterday.
The National Registration Act – Sections 6.5, 6.6 and 6.7 – stipulates that every eligible person who refuses to make an application for registration shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $16,250 or imprisonment for six months.
Jagdeo, in restating his party’s position, said that the house-to-house registration — which commenced last Saturday, July 20, 2019 — is illegal since its operationalisation stemmed from an order given by the former Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Retired) James Patterson days prior to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling that his appointment was unconstitutional.
The Opposition Leader reiterated his call for Guyanese to boycott the process, noting that the police cannot charge everyone who fails to comply.
“They cannot charge 50,000 people [or] 100,000 people. We will ask the Commissioner of Police to not be part of this activity,” Jagdeo said, while claiming that his party will provide the necessary legal support to fend off any legal action that might face persons who do not comply with the registration process.
But Jordan at a Peoples’ National Congress Reform (PNCR) news conference earlier today, told the Guyana Standard that the court has not deemed the house-to-house registration illegal, and therefore, the process must be regarded as a legal one.
“We are a law-abiding government. If the law says that you must register, if the court has so far refused to entertain any question of stopping the registration, then we have to assume that the registration as of now is legal. And the law says that if you don’t register, then you can be charged. So, there is no question about engaging the police to not execute the laws of the land – absolutely no question! Otherwise, where does it stop? Can I go to the police and say please don’t charge me for murdering Mr Y or please don’t charge me for murdering Mr X? No! The police is there to implement and execute the laws of the land,” the economist emphasised.