People against whom allegations have been made at the commission of enquiry into the events surrounding the July 1990 attempted coup will be given ample opportunity to answer, commission chairman, Sir David Simmons, said yesterday.
In a statement at the end of the first session of the public hearings at the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port-of-Spain, which lasted two weeks, Simmons, a Barbadian, said: "We have just begun to hold public hearings and I wish to assure the public that persons against whom allegations have been made, or who have been the subject of adverse comment or imputation, will be afforded ample opportunity to answer those allegations or imputations.
"The principles of natural justice and ordinary notions of fairness require that such opportunity be provided," he added.Assuring that there would be many more sessions, Simmons reiterated that the commission had a "fairly long list" of people who it is believed can contribute in a meaningful way to the enquiry into the 1990 uprising."And I appealed (in his opening statement) to all who have evidence relevant to our Terms of Reference to come forward and be interviewed by the commission's counsel with a view to giving such evidence."
Simmons said the interviewing of potential witnesses would be an ongoing process."Since this inquiry started, a number of persons have, in fact, got in touch with the Secretariat and expressed a desire to give evidence," Simmons said.The chairman also re-emphasised that it was no part of the commission's function to engage in unsupported speculation.Simmons recalled that he earlier said the inquiry would be conducted thoroughly.
Using a Barbadian saying, he noted: "Taking one's time is not laziness."He added a more popular expression: "Patience is a virtue."Simmons said at the conclusion of the inquiry, it would be the task of the commissioners to find appropriate facts."To that task, we will bring to bear our collective common sense and, where applicable, our forensic and judicial experience and expertise."
April 26 to May 6
The public can read witness statements admitted during the first session and transcripts of oral evidence on the commission's Web site, www.1990coe.org