Department of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport response to overseas-based Guyanese, Rickforde Burke

Department of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport, Press Release

Georgetown, Guyana – August 2, 2019

The Department of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport within the Ministry of the Presidency has noted the publication on social media of statements and comments that are both libelous against individuals named and impugn the integrity of the institutions of the state involved.

Specifically, the comments made by the US-based Mr. Rickford Burke addressed the issue of the Director of Youth, Ms. Melissa Carmichael, having been sent on administrative leave.

The public should be informed that Ms. Carmichael’s installment to the position of Director of Youth was by way of the Public Service Commission (PSC), a constitutionally created institution of the state.

On April 26, 2019, Ms. Carmichael was sent on administrative leave following a directive issued by the PSC itself, as a legitimate step in an ongoing investigation. As part of the process the Commission instructed that Permanent Secretary, Ms. Melissa Tucker engage the Guyana Police Force in an attempt to bring resolve to the matter.

This directive was the result of a months-long engagement between the Department and the Commission during which Ms. Carmichael was afforded due process to the fullest extent of the public service rules and regulations. Detailed correspondence as well as other evidence provided led to the Commission’s recommendations.  To suggest otherwise is to impugn both the competence and integrity of the Commission.

With regard to allegations that the Permanent Secretary, Ms. Melissa Tucker is under a cloud of investigation for “alleged blatant and egregious misuse of government of Guyana resources”, the statement is patently false and defamatory.  With regard to the specific allegation that PS Tucker’s spouse was taken on a July, 2018 trip at the expense of the state, there are receipts of payments that stand as evidence against this libel.

Finally, to claim that the Minister responsible for Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport, the Honourable Dr. George Norton, is aware of the scenario that Mr. Burke alleges, is to imply that the minister is himself complicit in “abuse, alleged corruption and unprofessional and vindictive acts”.  This is a highly irresponsible and insidious claim to make.

While public comment on and criticism of state actors and institutions are a healthy component of any democracy, such comment and criticism should come from a place of integrity and a regard for truth; allegations as serious as the ones leveled by Mr. Burke should be accompanied – out of basic decency – by evidence.

The matter concerning Ms. Carmichael is an ongoing issue and as such the Department will refrain from further commentary.

-End-

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