US-nominated UNHRC’s candidate’s question not linked to Washington – VP Jagdeo

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The Guyana Government believes that the question raised earlier this week at the United Nations Human Rights Committee meeting by the United States-nominated Candidate, Laurence Helfer, about corruption in Guyana is not linked to any concerns in Washington.

During the UN’s 140th Session of the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, before which Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira appeared virtually, Helfer asked about public frustration over the alleged failure on Guyana’s part to investigate reports of corruption against the Vice President, Police Officers and members of the Judiciary.

Speaking on this matter, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said on Thursday that the question did not at all reflect concerns in Washington, DC – the capital of the US Government.

“If Washington is concerned about it, they will raise it directly with us. We have that engagement often with the senior leadership from the White House and from the State Department, from Treasury [and] everywhere else. These matters have never surfaced even after, you recall, APNU sent Vice President [Kamala] Harris a long dossier. They had the Washington conference, [the US Government] met with them here and they raised all the same issues about racism and we’re corrupt, and everything else,” he posited.

United States-nominated Candidate, Laurence Helfer

According to Jagdeo, while Helfer was appointed to represent the US at the Human Rights Committee, he operates in an individual capacity and not as a government representative. As a matter of fact, Jagdeo believes that the US-nominated candidate has been contaminated by political activists associated with the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Opposition.“He is from New York and I think the contamination took place there… I can’t imagine how that would even surface there for anyone who’d done proper research excepting as if he was given a brief by APNU.

“I think they’re stupid questions. They did not have to be asked, but they were asked… It was propaganda from the Opposition that made its way up to that Committee. So, we will response to it, but then the local media… using the propaganda to create new stories as though we’re sanctioned by the UN,” the Vice President contended.

Jagdeo noted that the Opposition was not getting any traction with its utterances anymore in Guyana and so now it was moving its propaganda to international platforms.

Nevertheless, while Government intends to defend its track record before the UN Committee on the issues raised, the Vice President pointed to the disadvantage the country faces in providing written answers to these questions since enough time was not given during the hearing.

To this end, he disclosed that Government would be asking the Committee to not only publicise Guyana’s responses but also to release the sources where the questions originated so as to ascertain whether the allegations made are from the Opposition or its proxy Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Default judgement

During the Human Rights Committee hearing, Minister Teixeira, in response to Helfer’s question about the Vice President, made it clear that there was no formal report made to the Guyana Police Force about the allegations.“There is no follow-up, because there was no Police report made by VICE News or anybody else. So, the Police cannot investigate without some form of report or complaint,” Teixeira explained at the UN meeting on Monday.

In 2022, US-based media outlet VICE News aired a feature titled “Guyana for Sale” that contained allegations against Jagdeo, but while it was deemed an “exposé”, it failed to implicate the Vice President in bribery.Jagdeo has, on numerous occasions, denied the allegations and has said on several occasions that the documents he submitted to the Integrity Commission could dismantle any corruption allegations against him. He had also filed legal proceedings against the Chinese businessman, Su Zhi Rong, who made the allegations.

According to Jagdeo, his lawyers have applied for default judgment in the $50 million lawsuit against the Chinese businessman. He added that once this case was closed, he would be filing additional legal proceedings against other persons who have been peddling these allegations.

“There’re lots of allegations… The Su matter is only the latest iteration… I can tell you about 15 allegations of corruption that they investigated [but found nothing] and they’re still bringing back,” Jagdeo said about the Opposition.

Meanwhile, President Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday called out Helfer over his question, saying that the reference to corruption was not based on any evidence or facts. He said that the US-nominated Candidate is being fed with propaganda by the Opposition to paint the Government in a particular light.According to the Head of State, the Opposition tried to use this individual to derail the two days of positive reviews Guyana had at the Committee.

Nevertheless, the Human Rights Committee on Wednesday concluded its consideration of the third periodic report of Guyana on how it implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In a statement, the UN said the Committee Experts commended measures promoting gender equity, and raised issues concerning the border controversy with Venezuela over the Essequibo territory and alleged corruption regarding oil exploitation permits.