Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017


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Terrorist Laws
(Aired 25 September 2002)

   Many years ago when I was in college I was required to study a book called "A Man For All Seasons" for my GCE English literature exams in which I am proud to say that I got a distinction, it was the story of Sir Thomas Moore and was written by one Robert Bolt. Moore who was then Chancellor of England refused to take an oath, which would recognize the heirs of Ann Bolin as the legitimate successors to the infamous Henry 8th,  since he did not recognize the marriage between Henry and Anne Bolin, because he did not accept the divorce between Henry and Catherine of Aragon, Henry's first wife. Even the Pope refused to grant Henry this divorce and that is why the English broke away from the Catholic Church and created the Church of England. Moore's friend the Duke of Norfolk in an effort to help Moore to keep his head on his shoulders, told him in one of their many conversations on the matter, that he would cut down all the laws in England to get at the devil, Moore's response was, OK and after you cut down all of the laws and the devil turned on you, where will you then hide not having any laws to protect you?

    Our laws are there to protect us all, the innocent as well as the guilty and any fool who thinks that we can have two different sets of laws one for law-abiding citizens and one set for the criminals is indeed a complete fool.

   Our fundamental rights are enshrined in our constitution, which stands supreme. I will not have those laws cut down to catch even the most notorious criminal, since in the process I will be interfering with my own protections that the constitution guarantees ME. We are now seeking to change several of our laws to catch the criminals that now threaten our safety.

   The Guyana Human Rights association tells us that quote, "once these new laws are passed they will remain in our statute books, it may be that the present Government will not ride roughshod over citizen's rights but there is no assurance that later on it will not seek to do so, or that another Government will not employ the amendments as a political weapon" can we trust this government NOT to use these laws to ride roughshod on my rights??? Their record tells us that the answer is no.  

     Let us examine who our minister of Home Affairs is; he was once in the GDF where he held a position of LEUTENANT stationed at Timehri and was also the paymaster for the troops stationed there, he was charged with stealing public property by manipulating the payroll, in the Court Martial which was presided over by a judge advocate, Gajraj was found guilty of the charges, and sentenced to two years, funnily enough he appealed and was granted a second Court Martial he was again found Guilty, don't ask me how he got two Court Martials, but he then appealed to the Guyana Court of Appeal and the matter was thrown out on technical grounds. The Judge Advocate in the second court Martial delivered a decision which was quote "misdirection or non direction" so he got off on technical grounds.     

   It is common knowledge that in Guyana the legal system has completely failed to deliver justice to its citizens and now apparently so has the police. In an effort to correct this situation, one would logically commence the depoliticizing and restructuring of both the police force and the legal system, that is where anyone with one functioning brain cell would start if their agenda were to have a true democracy in this country.

   But not in Guyana, we must rush to parliament and pass repressive laws that are unenforceable, confusing, unconstitutional and can have the effect of making us an even bigger laughing stock in the International Community.

     Over the past 10 years our Attorney Generals have systematically destroyed, the AG's chambers, so that major cases can be given out to party hacks for exorbitant fees, this has led to the reducing the AG's chambers personnel to a skeleton crew but has not affected their budgeted allocation, and these contracted lawyers have not won a single major case for the state, even though the legal system is completely politicized in their favor.

   Imagine ladies and gentlemen systemically reducing the staff of the AG's chambers, refusing to pay them a better wage but at the same time retaining far more expensive legal advocacy, by poorly qualified persons which has had the effect of rendering the Attorney General's chambers impotent and corrupt, but expensive.

   Words cannot describe my contempt for this absolute nonsense.

   Now I come to the bills presently before the parliament and I would like to quote some comments recorded by former Chancellor Keith Massiah he describes the amendments as comical, absurd, childish, long winded, repetitive, diffuse and difficult to understand, for example to deal with terrorist activity we have a new section 309 in chapter 8:01 creating legislation regarding terrorist activity, I will quote it to show you how totally incompetent our AG's chambers have become, "whoever commits a terrorist act in which a person is killed will be punishable with, a fine of one million five hundred thousand dollars and death" end quote. So here, we are being told by Doodnauth emphasis on naught, that he will extort one point five mil. from the terrorist and then he will hang him. The legal points regarding the unconstitutional nature of the other provisions contained in these bills I will leave to the bar association and other legal luminaries. Before I close on it I would like to quote from the Guyana Human rights association who have submitted their objections to our Attorney General. Before I do so however, I must tell you how the GHRA operates, they see a bill or an occurrence in the country which the local representatives are uncomfortable with, so they send a copy of that bill, motion, action whatever, to the international human rights association in the United Kingdom for legal advise and some Law Lord or the other gives them an opinion. it happened with our broadcasting bill in 1996 and I have quoted Lord Lester many times, so these opinions from the GHRA are the opinions of the most respected legal minds on the planet.

   They tell us quote "The time allowed, namely one week, for submission of comments is woefully inadequate given the complexity of the matter, it also suggests a perfunctory approach to consultation by the office of the Attorney General. However given the seriousness of what is proposed the GHRA has prepared preliminary comments, these will be followed by more substantive comments, which will be published as the formal position of the GHRA when they are available. Should this more thorough review reveal further provisions which the GHRA in the discharge of its functions believes might offend against the rights of citizens we shall feel obliged to protest about them" here is what they tell us about the Provision of crimes amendment bill 2002. "The proposed amendment has a very serious flaw; this offends against the rehabilitation of offenders act and against the interest of justice, because no provision is made for the restriction of the period during which the deportee will be made subject to the supervision of the Minister. The Minister can therefore make this order to supervise, YEARS after the offender has returned to Guyana, additionally this supervision should apply only on a personal basis and not applied to all classes of persons identified as deportees".

   Let me put this clearly for those like me who like a simple story, you are a deportee, all you did was breach AMERICAN immigration law, you broke no Guyana law but you are deported back to Guyana. Years later, you commit a minor offence in Guyana, this offence can be as trivial as having a dispute with your neighbor, but this neighbor is CONNECTED, he can bribe the minister to give you a hard time because you were once a deportee. This the GHRA tells us acts against the interests of justice.

As far as the Evidence act amendment bill, 2002 is concerned.

    The GHRA suggests that a committee be set up to make recommendations for review of our evidence act. There is a common law discretion of the court to exclude evidence in order to ensure that every accused has a fair trial and the GHRA suggests changes, WHICH WILL HAVE THE SAME EFFECT but which is not so incompetently drafted as to remove the right of any Guyanese to have a fair trial. Especially as it pertains to computer evidence which can be doctored or have a Virus. Much consideration, the GHRA tell us, must be given to this area of evidence, not only by what now constitutes the AG chambers but precedent law elsewhere around the globe, where the implications are better understood than by Gajraj and Doodnauth.      

    These bills now passed in the parliament, with all of the flaws I have outlined, tells me that the PPP devoid of all morality and respect for the constitution, the rule of law, human rights organizations, the opposition and we the citizens of this country are playing games with our constitutional rights and it must stop. Since when we remove those rights and the devil turns on us we will have no place to hide. I have little doubt that these stupid laws will soon be challenged in our courts and will be useless and they MUST be challenged ladies and gentlemen, they offer protection to no one, and breach many of our constitutional rights.