– call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raisedBy Indrawattie NatramA public consultation was on Wednesday held in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) at the Richard FaikalA section of the gathering that attended the draft Juvenile Justice Bill 2015 consultationPolice College in Suddie to educate persons on the draft Juvenile Justice Bill 2015.The consultation was the third of its kind and was a collaborative effort between the Public Security Ministry and UNICEF.Delivering opening remarks was Region Two Chairman Devanand Ramdatt who said that the consultation should be standardised so that agencies and key stakeholders can express their views on the Bill.Speaking to key stakeholders, which included the heads of various youth groups, members of the Police Force; representatives of the Region Two Administration, Suddie Public Hospital, and New Opportunity Corps (NOC) and Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) officials, Ramdatt said he was happy members of the NOC were involved in such consultations.The Regional Chairman noted that the age of criminal responsibility in Guyana was 10 years and he believed this should be raised. He opined that for the Bill to be passed, there must be a multi-stakeholder and inter-agency approach, and thorough networking, recommending that the Minister with responsibility for youth be the main advocate for sensitisation on the Bill.According to Ramdatt, most of the probation reports on juvenile cases lack quality and often young victims are wrongfully sentenced to the NOC. This, he said, can be eliminated with proper understanding and investigations. Often, he noted, children are being sent to the NOC for minor offences such as “wandering”, while other offenders spent less than a year at the NOC which he believes is insufficient time to socially rehabilitate them. Ramdatt said a key component of the Bill should be education and ways in which the teens’ lives could become meaningful through a business trade.He also recommended Government should play a role in providing quality infrastructure/holding facilities for children who are being sanctioned. He called on major stakeholders to express their views on the draft bill before it is passed, noting anything that involved children was important.Representing the Public Security Ministry was Courtney Samuels who said on April 27 and May 11, the Ministry convened the first and second consultation on the draft of the Juvenile Justice Bill in Georgetown and New Amsterdam respectively. Expounding on the purpose of the Bill, Samuels said it was to amend and consolidate the law in relation to criminal justice for juveniles as well as to provide establishment facilities for custody, education and rehabilitation for juvenile offenders and to repeal the Juvenile Offenders Act and the Training Schools Act.The consultations, he said, are expected to strengthen the existing draft and spur action for reforms/discussion in areas such as alternatives to sentences, the removal of status offences such as wandering, increasing the age of criminal responsibility and greater accountability and action across all sectors for the prevention of, treatment for and response to children in contact with the law.The Bill, he said, also plays a pivotal role in ensuring that detention is used as an absolute last resort, and there are programmes which promote prevention of children in contact with the law. The draft Juvenile Justice Bill is a comprehensive document which will tackle significant issues related to juvenile justice in Guyana.Attorney-at-Law Simone Morris Ramlall explained in detail key aspects of the Bill. The entire Bill, she said, is principally intended to reform young people to move on and lead a productive life after contact with the law, and to ensure their records are sealed and not used against him or her.Ramlall further explained that the Bill reflected the modern philosophy of juvenile justice in an effort to strengthen and make the justice system more responsive. The Bill also sought to provide a framework where professionals are in the forefront to support the State in assisting juveniles, as far as possible.The main focus, Ramlall noted, is to ensure that juveniles understand what wrong they did and for a sanction to be given for the error, but at the end of the sanction period, the child must be able to reintegrate smoothly into society. The Bill also focused on the role of the Police.Persons who attended the consultations called for an increase in the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14. There was also a call for intervention from religious organisations for first-time offenders in terms of counselling before putting the matter before the courts.Once the Bill becomes law, the Minister responsible for Public Security will have the responsibility of establishing facilities for juvenile custody and detention throughout Guyana.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has said he expects operations in Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia to end by March 2018, which will save hundreds of millions of dollars.He told a farewell news conference on Friday that a major U.N. review of the 16 peacekeeping missions — which cost nearly $8 billion a year — is currently underway, ordered by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who took office on Jan. 1.The Trump administration, which is seeking to cut payments to the United Nations including over 28 percent for peacekeeping, is conducting its own review. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has said reform of the far-flung operations is a top priority.Ladsous said the goal in Haiti is to have the more than 2,300 troops back home by October. The budget for the Haiti mission from July 2016 through June 2017 is about $346 million. Ladsous said the Security Council may decide to have a much smaller mission focusing on police.The peacekeeping chief said all military members of the Ivorian mission have already left and the remaining civilians and police will be gone by June. That mission has a budget of $153 million for the same period.Ladsous said he thinks the Liberian mission — whose latest annual budget was about $187 million — should be closed down by March 2018, following elections scheduled in October. A final decision is up to the Security Council.The council is currently discussing whether to cut the Congo mission, which has about 22,400 people, including nearly 17,000 troops and over 1,350 police, and is the biggest and costliest with a budget of $1.2 billion.Ladsous stressed that council members should take into account that this is a key year in Congo with “very important elections in a very delicate context” scheduled by December, and renewed security tensions not only in the volatile east “but also in new areas like the Kasais.”He said the U.N. and the African Union are conducting a review of their joint mission in Sudan’s western Darfur region, one of the costliest for the United Nations with an annual budget of over $1 billion and more than 13,600 troops.Ladsous said the current mission, known as UNAMID, “has nothing to do” with the situation 10 years ago when the mission was established and government-allied janjaweed militias were carrying out “mass extermination of civilians.”“Overall the situation in Darfur, while not perfect, is certainly nothing compared to what it used to be,” he said. “So we have to see whether we need to retain all these people, whether we adjust.” He noted the Sudanese government’s long-standing request for an exit for UNAMID.Ladsous, who is stepping down on March 31 after six years as undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, just returned from South Sudan where the U.N. has an almost 12,000-strong peacekeeping mission, which costs nearly $1.1 billion annually. He said the U.N. “has been moving heaven and earth” to deploy an additional 4,000 peacekeepers from the region to help protect civilians caught in fighting.Ladsous said “the vanguard elements” of the regional force will likely be deploying between the end of April and the first week in May including a company of Rwandan troops and helicopters and units from Bangladesh and Nepal.Looking back at how peacekeeping has changed, Ladsous said 25 years ago peacekeepers were respected but nowadays “we are kidnapped, we are shot at, we are bombed” and targeted by explosive devices.In part, he said, this is a result of rebel groups and fighters who don’t feel bound by international law and the laws of war and “just pursue their agenda regardless.” But Ladsous said it’s also true that some governments don’t abide by their commitments and that’s why “I keep saying the Security Council should take a serious view of this and act accordingly.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The six most outstanding students of the Little Red Village Primary School, Onderneeming, Essequibo Coast were recently honoured by Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) Youth and Culture Officer Herald Alves.Region Two Youth and Culture Officer Herald Alves posed with the children and two parentsAs an encouragement for students in the far-flung areas of the Region, Alves decided to honour the six best all-round students by rewarding them with a backpack and school items.The Head Mistress of the school was very thankful for the kind gesture, noting that the presentation would help to motivate students to work harder for a better and brighter future, especially those in the far-flung areas who are seldom remembered.In addition, two parents were honoured for their support towards the school. The gifts were donated by the Youth and Culture Department of Region Two, Andrea Benjamin and KEY International.
Forensic audit – $1.8B spent on unjustifiable repairsThe National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has been spending millions of dollars over the years to buy machinery for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) without any clearance from the Board of Directors or cabinet, according to the forensic audit conducted last year.The audit report was published on Friday by the Ministry of Finance and was done by Nigel Hinds and Clement DeNobrega, covering the period November 1, 2011 to May 31, 2015. In the report, Hinds pointed out that NDIA purchased 10 Hyundai R220 LC excavators valued $295 million and tractors with harrows costing some $198 million for GuySuCo in 2013, amounting to $493 million. According to the auditor, the excavators were on the Asset listing provided by finance staff but they were not described as NDIA property and were registered in the name of GuySuCo.He further noted that the registrations for the tractors and harrows were not available as those were still with the supplier and were not even on the listing provided. Those tractors were supplied directly to GuySuCo for drainage and tillage.In addition, he disclosed that one excavator was purchased and registered in the name of Ministry of Public Works at a cost of $27 million but was shown on NDIA Asset Listing.“There has to be a clear Policy Guideline to inform Finance Staff as to what items of machinery and equipment should be included on its asset listing and reasons why items purchased with NDIA Funds are excluded; instead of having NDIA appearing as a banker for GuySuCo,” Hinds outlined.According to Hinds, when NDIA was de-linked from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in 2004, it received capital assets upon its establishment as a separate entity. The analysis of the registration documents of machinery revealed that ownership of the machinery NDIA acquired from the ministry was never vested in the authority.This practice, the auditor said, continued well into 2014 when some 25 excavators procured for NDIA were registered in the name of MoA. He noted that while there were some units that were correctly registered to NDIA, some other machines are described as owned by “MOA & NDIA”.It was further observed that the 10 excavators that were bought for GuySuCo, are registered as owned by the MoA and are listed as “MOA NDIA Property”. These excavators are listed as located at GuySuCo and the transaction would be dealt with under capital expenditure since it appears as though NDIA acted as a bank to the Sugar Corporation.The auditor noted that management could not provide any explanation for this irregular practice.Moreover, it was disclosed that a letter was written by then Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO), R.Singh, to NDIA CEO, Lionel Wordsworth, in June 2013 for the authority to provide short-term financing for 10 Holland Tractors to the tune of $161.9 million. The auditor explained that while this money was repaid on January 3, 2014, NDIA had used funds from its own budget to fund that request and this would have impacted on its plans for the 2013 fiscal year.In addition to these purchases, Hinds said NDIA also constructed pumping stations valued $146 million based on figures seen in its Capital Expenditure Plan.“It is still not clear why tractors with harrows used primarily for tillage by GuySuCo would have been purchased by NDIA.More importantly there was no evidence from the Board Minutes reviewed that this matter was discussed at the Board level. Even the letter written by Mr. R.Singh, DCEO of GuySuCo was not presented to the Board,” the auditor posited.On the other hand, Hinds revealed too that NDiA expended over $1.8 billion from both its capital and current budgets during the period 2011 to 2014 on repairs and rehabilitation of machinery without any proper justification as to what the monies were spent on specifically. “No one from management could provide any justification for the level of expenditures on repair works, which was done by contractors… Minutes of the Board Meeting showed members were not told at any point of the massive repair costs or provided with cost reports for discussion and decision making as to the level of expenditures,” the auditor stated.Hinds noted that in some cases, vague descriptions were written on work orders about the repairs but the invoice values attached were huge. Furthermore, the auditor said Head of the authority’s Mechanical Division, Avinash Singh, had revealed that he was aware of the high costs of repair works on machinery and equipment and agreed that the sums spent did not make financial sense, thus, should be halted immediately“There were several memos exchanged between the CEO, Mr Lionel Wordsworth and Mr Avinash Singh on this matter but little or no action has been taken to date to address the high repairs costs,” the auditor found.Furthermore, he outlined that based on contracts examined for the years 2012 to June 2015, which amounted to some $587 million out of $896 million, it was revealed that 93 per cent of the amount spent was on repairs and rehabilitation of machinery and equipment, and the remaining seven per cent on spares and supplies.According to Hinds, this suggested a preference for external repairs rather than for repairs to be done in house. However, he noted Singh had argued that NDIA was not equipped to handle its own repairs because of the absence of mechanics and other resources.To this end, contracts to the tune of $547 million were awarded to 52 contractors for repairs and maintenance out of which 72 per cent or $392 million were awarded to eight contractors.
Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson The Football Association have confirmed they have asked Leicester manager Nigel Pearson for his observations following his row with a fan.The Foxes boss was involved in a heated exchange with a supporter during Leicester’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool last week.He refused to apologise to the fan despite calls from the Leicester City Supporters Club to say sorry after a video emerged of the argument.It is a routine move from the FA and Pearson has until 6pm on Wednesday to come back with his observations for the governing body to consider.Pearson said on Friday: “I have had run-ins with fans in the past and in the heat of the moment these things happen and there won’t be any apology.“Let’s put it like this, it’s best if we don’t speak about what happened on either side, I’m not going to repeat what happened here.“I am very keen to protect my players and myself and I’m more than happy to stick up for myself in that situation and, more importantly protect my players, that’s the root cause of the problem.“If people were offended by what happened in some ways that is regrettable but there’s no need for me to apologise to someone of that ilk.”The Foxes are on a ten-game winless streak following Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Aston Villa, and currently sit bottom of the Premier League table. 1