Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017

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Douglas
(Aired 29 April 2002)

   I apologize for not doing commentary for the last three weeks, this was due to my being away on urgent business in the US, so I was not here when the now notorious tape regarding Douglas' statement was aired on VCT. Since I only returned to Guyana on an enjoyable Universal Airlines flight on the 16th May 2002. 5 days after the notorious tape was aired.

    In investigating who should be disciplined for putting VCT in the middle of this furore, I have come to a few conclusions. Where the evening news erred and I have sanctioned them for it, one person is now suspended for one month, was that they should have made a copy of the tape, immediately after receipt of it, and handed the original to the police, and wait 24 hours for some sort of reaction from the commissioner, if there was none THEN they were then free to air the tape.

    Ladies and gentlemen in the commentary re-aired last night, I outlined for you, since November 2001, that our legal system is in chaos, has completely broken down and unless something is done, some people will take the law into their own hands, and there will be serous repercussions because of it.

   The situation is this, on the 11th May 2002 The Evening News aired a tape which was received, unsolicited, from one Andrew Douglas who outlined for us, his version of a situation that has now forced him to live outside of the law. I have no sympathy for Mr. Douglas and I certainly do not condone what he is doing. If anyone has come to the conclusion that Vieira Communications condones what Douglas was saying or doing, you are wrong, we condemn it.

    But when governments destroy the legal system for their own ends, to hide their wrongdoing and to carry out their own autocratic agenda, we are ALL affected by it.

   Let's examine the issues here? 5 men escaped our prison after killing one guard and seriously wounding another, our police force have failed to protect us form the rampage they have wrought on the public over the past 3 months. There are also serious questions as to how they managed to escape in the first place, no one has given us a credible explanation of how it was allowed to happen, we are told that the senior officers at the jail were off mashing and we are apparently supposed to accept that,,, and no one was disciplined as a result of it. Of course we have a jail designed and built for 300 people which is now filled with over 900 prisoners, we the public have not questioned or expressed our outrage at this ridiculous situation. There are 800 prisoners of all races in our Jails awaiting our lumbering legal system to give them a trial, some of these people are guilty, some are innocent, but guilty or not these people wait in the lock ups for 2-5 years awaiting trial, in many cases being in the Guyana lock ups amounts to a sentence of death, since gang rapes are common and AIDS does not care if you are innocent or guilty if you are Black or Indian. It is a recipe for disaster. Why all the surprise when it blows up in our faces?

    After waiting several years for justice Douglas and 4 others escaped, after wreaking havoc in the camp street jail. Douglas who was imprisoned almost two years ago and has not been tried but has repeatedly stated that he is innocent, that he had a Surinamese passport of which he gave us the number, and was kidnapped from Suriname without extradition and was detained against his will in Guyana on trumped up charges, these allegations remain unchallenged by the Minister of Home Affairs.

    After airing this tape the Suriname embassy have asked for a copy of it to verify, if what Douglas was saying is true, that he lived in Suriname, has a Surinamese passport and was taken illegally from Suriname and brought to Guyana against his will, He also claims that at the time the crime, for which he was accused and charged occurred, he was on an airplane between Suriname and Martinique, an ironclad alibi, the man's passport which he claims can corroborate this contention and which he claims was shown to the Guyanese authorities, has now mysteriously disappeared. If the Surinamese government discovers that this is true there will be another international incident between Guyana and Suriname.

     But why are the Surinamese government only now interested in the matter? After all Douglas was allegedly abducted since 2000, is it possible that the Guyana government was so disinterested in the international repercussions of this matter, that they did not even try to corroborate the man's story, Douglas tells us that our Minister of Home Affairs had his complaint for 8 months and apparently never approached the Surinamese government to determine if what the he was saying was true or not?  Are we so stupid or arrogant as not to understand the international repercussions of not doing so?

       All of this will now come out in time. Douglas also claims that he wrote to the Chief Justice, the Chancellor of the Judiciary, the DPP, he even climbed on the roof of the camp street jail on two occasions proclaiming his innocence and demanding a trial and justice, all to no avail. 

   Wouldn't it be ironical, if it is finally discovered that we took an innocent man, kidnapped him illegally from Suriname for no good reason at all, and turned him into a murderer, a terrorist and a revolutionary, simply because we did not give him justice.  

     Like our Prime Minister, I do not condone what Douglas has done, but I recognize his right to be heard, Sam Hinds would have earned my respect if he had said that all claims made by Douglas on that tape were lies, and why, but that he recognized that Douglas had a right to be heard. That is called freedom of expression, freedom of the press, it is also called democracy.

   This government apparently did not want Douglas' story to be heard, since it would give us too much of an insight into the corruption, the injustices and incompetence that occurs in our legal and judicial system every day.

     Remember ladies and gentlemen what was done to Douglas, if true, can be done to any of us, at any time, our accusers, the police, aided by the  government can tamper with evidence, suppress evidence, manipulate the judicial system, denying us justice and convict us of crimes we did not commit, or lock us up for five years awaiting a trial. Is anyone interested in the fact that in Canada, if a prisoner cannot get a trial within 18 months of being charged and locked up, he has to be set free.

    When VCT offered this tape to the police, the day after it was received and aired, Tommy Rhodes in an effort to cooperate with the police suggested that the commissioner of police [acting] make a statement, which he volunteered to air on VCT, refuting all the allegations made by Douglas, Mc Donald never did, I even understand that they wanted to take away VCT's license to operate and leave us to fight the matter in the courts for the next 10 years, bankrupting us in the process. Using that monster of a legal system that was created by the 1980 constitution to deprive us of justice. How very democratic and progressive.

    We don't need a commission of inquiry to decide what has to be done to the stations that aired Douglas' statement, there should be an inquiry to decide if what the man is saying is true or not, and if it is true, then all concerned in this matter should be charged for perverting the course of justice in this country to the detriment of its citizens, Since their actions have resulted in the beginning of a criminal blood bath unprecedented in our history and the police are powerless to stop it.

 I looked at that tape several times Ladies and gentlemen, Douglas does not see himself as a common criminal, he wrongly sees himself as a revolutionary fighting for justice, it is irrelevant to him that in the pursuance of that agenda, he is committing criminal acts against the people of this country, all of us, and in the process he is discrediting his own Afro Guyanese brothers and making them targets for investigations and persecution by the police, and dividing the country along deeper racial lines, that is NOT the way forward. And we should all condemn it.

    So ladies and gentlemen there was nothing wrong with channels 7, 9 and 28 airing Douglas' statement, we have all seen the American media airing the views of Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arfat when he was considered a terrorist, even the BBC interviewed him from hiding, we have seen wanted Mafia bosses being interviewed with their faces blanked out to protect their identity, we have seen them airing several other high profile criminals speaking from hiding telling their side of the story, to the detriment of some corrupt official, it is the democratic process at work.   

    Most importantly ladies and gentlemen there are no guidelines entrenched in our regulations which unambiguously state that it is illegal to do so, therefore there is nothing subversive or criminal about it, only if VCT had said that we supported Douglas, would it be so. And we categorically do not support him.

    What is wrong with our system, IS trying to penalize those who did air it, whilst not offering one shred of evidence that what Douglas was saying, is not true.