“Classic case of misdirection” – VP on Hughes’ uproar on use of “negro” in police reports

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and Attorney Nigel Hughes

While making it clear that the government is not against a review of the situation, Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has described the current uproar over the use of the word “negro” in official police reports as a “classic case of misdirection”.

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes recently raised concerns about the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) use of the derogatory word in its official reports, citing Article 149 of Guyana’s Constitution and several other pieces of legislation, which commits to equality and non-discrimination, and mandates that all citizens be treated with respect and fairness.

Hughes had written a letter to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), which has since initiated discussions with the GPF on the matter.

The Attorney’s letter to the Commission stemmed from the Police Force’s initial description of Working People’s Alliance (WPA) activist, Kidackie Amsterdam as a “negro”.

Amsterdam was arrested and charged with violating the Cybercrime Act after a caller to his Facebook programme allegedly advocated the killing of the President and four government ministers. He is currently on $200,000 bail.

However, Attorney Hughes had engaged the ERC to issue a directive to the Force, advising that law enforcement agency to cease the use of the term and any other derogatory language when referring to individuals of African descent.

During his press conference on Thursday, VP Jagdeo contended that Hughes and his supporters are creating ‘an issue on a matter that is not new’.

He indicated that this terminology dates back to Guyana’s colonial history and that it extends to persons of all races as well.

Jagdeo also pointed out that Hughes, in all his career as a lawyer, was aware and even participated in the use of the word in official statements and reports but only chooses now to create an issue.

“…Not Nigel Hughes and (Winston) Felix,” he expressed, contending that Felix, during his tenure as Commissioner of Police, would have used the term countless times.

Nevertheless, the Vice President further revealed that Cabinet has discussed the situation and will “consult with the people that matter”.

“If it’s time to change it, we’re all for changing it,” Jagdeo said.