Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Guyana Justice
(Aired 14 March 2003)

    Time and time again I have told you that there is no justice in this country, I hardly ever address individual cases but tonight I want to visit the case of the 7 employees of the supreme court registry who were dismissed by Ms. Sita Ramlall. And the consequences of the actions of Ramlall, the Secretary to the Treasury, Minister Gopaul, and the Minister of Finance.

   On march 18th 2002, 7 employees of the supreme court registry were dismissed by Ms Ramlall, I will not go into the reasons why they were dismissed here tonight since I am taking up this case at the point where in the high court on the 26th day of August 2002 Judge Madam Y Cummings-Edwards ruled in case number 73-M 2002 Demerara, that these employees were wrongly dismissed since the decision of Ramlall was and I quote "unconstitutional, in breach of the principles of justice, is unreasonable, arbitrary, in excess of jurisdiction, without legal authority, ultra vires, null, void and of no legal effect" the judge further ordered that and I quote her decision again "it is further ordered that the applicants named be reinstated to their respective positions" 

    But the employees returned to work were given no work to do and were never paid.

    On the 12th September 2002 Ms. Ramlall wrote the permanent secretary Public Service Ministry Nandra Gopaul, in that letter she informs Gopaul that she had been ordered by the court to reinstate these seven employees but since the judge had declared that she had no authority to dismiss them in the first place, it would have to be the Public Service Ministry who would have to reinstate them. By copy of this same letter she informed the secretary to the treasury that the seven vacancies had been filled and since these employees now had to be reinstated it would exceed the number of authorised employees in the registry and require an additional budgetary allocation to do so.    

    In a letter dated the 17th September 2002 from the chief personnel officer Nickram on behalf of P.S. Gopaul informs Ramlall that he has forwarded her request for money to pay the seven employees to the secretary Public Service Commission for appropriate action but that, she, Ramlall should take no action whatever until she hears from the Public Service Commission. Gopaul however lies to the public in a statement in the newspaper that these seven people will be paid.

   Gopaul then receives a letter from the secretary to the treasury dated 17th September 2002 which states inter ailia that and I quote it "please be advised that due to the fact that those vacancies were filled and funds have not been allocated for additional employees, I would be unable to fund additional employment cost in the supreme court"  so Ms. Ramlall was now in a box or as we Guyanese would say up the creek without a paddle, she requested that someone reinstate these dismissed employees and her request was declined but it is her neck that is on the chopping block. The workers physically returned to their positions but they were not given any tasks to perform and they were not being paid. So they and their union decided to sue for contempt of court. 

     On the 19th day of December 2002 the contempt of court proceedings were filed by the seven employees against the Minister of Finance, the Attorney General and the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Sita Ramlall.

    Incredibly the judge Ms. Dawn Gregory-Barnes in this second matter notwithstanding that it was the Secretary to the Treasury who is a subordinate officer of the Minister of Finance who had refused to release the money to pay these employees after a direct request from Sita Ramlall, dismisses the order against the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General, and held Ramlall solely responsible to pay these employees.

    The judge then gives Sita Ramlall time to appeal before she was cited for contempt of court in not carrying out the decision of Justice Cummings-Edwards.

    In the hearings that followed Ramlall again presented the judge with evidence that her written requests to reinstate these employees to the Public Service Ministry and the Ministry of Finance were turned down and that unless she personally paid them there was nothing that she could do.  The result was that to this day these employees have not been paid a cent for almost one year since the 18th March 2002 when they were dismissed by Ramlall. And Ramlall was cited for contempt of court in not discharging the ruling of Justice Cummings-Edwards. 

    It was with total disbelief that I read the above documents and came to the conclusion that MS. Ramlall, not a favourite pal of mine as I have commented on her before. was left in such a ridiculous position by a High Court Judge who totally misunderstood the situation and released the real culprits in the matter the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General and held Ramlall solely responsible for this entire mess.

   Let me recap this for you ladies and gentlemen seven employees were dismissed by Ramlall, they went to court, they won the case, the judge reinstated them in fact the judge ruled that Ramlall did not have the authority to dismiss them in the first place so they were never fired at all, Ramlall then writes the people at Finance and informs them of the ruling, But they refuse to allocate any further money to pay them, the employees then take the Minister of Finance, the Attorney General and Ramlall to court for contempt and the learned judge discharges the matter against the main culprits in the matter and holds Ramlall personally responsible for the entire mess. 

    I thought that I had heard everything. But this one takes the cake.

     These employees came to me with their documentation since they can see no end to the matter in sight, since even though Ms. Ramlall was cited for contempt she still cannot pay them unless she does so from her own pocket. In looking for the truth in this matter I discovered this atrocity that has been perpetrated against Ramlall. And that is the simple truth ladies and gentlemen.

     This matter should be examined again and the real culprits be brought before the courts and jailed since they allowed a gross miscarriage of justice by being above the law.

     It is what I have been telling you all along ladies and gentlemen senior functionaries within this government are above the law, they can commit any offence and get away with it, they can even leave their Registrar of the Supreme Court to take all of the heat and stay in the fire whilst they continue to refuse to release the finances to pay these seven people, out of what appears to be sheer spite or total disinterest. I never thought that the day would come when I would feel sorry for Sita Ramlall, but I do now.

    The Minister of Finance should be cited for contempt the Attorney General should also be so cited since he represents the state whose actions in this matter will not stand scrutiny, because tonight, Justice Vieira says that they are the real culprits in this matter and should not be allowed to get away with it.

    In the mean time someone will have to pay these poor employees who have not received a cent in nearly one year.

    Again I have to tell you, if there is no justice in this country, then people are left with no alternative but to take the law into their own hands, it is what has caused all of our ills, all of the violence, all of the unnecessary and destructive public protests.

    For example yesterday the Commissioner of police called the media to a press conference at which he stated that he will entertain no questions. His statement to the media was that the results of his high level investigation concerning the killing of Yohance Douglas was sent to the DPP and the police complaints authority. Please correct me if I am wrong Commissioner but the police complaints authority is where citizens aggrieved by the POLICE go to seek justice, not where the police go to seek justice from the PUBLIC. The DPP according to Mr. Raphael Trotman is a place where all matters go to be buried without benefit of clergy.

     This is a matter that has taken on urgent national and international importance since the United Nations and Amnesty International have taken an active interest in it, not to mention the numerous marches and protests by the university of Guyana students and other concerned citizens, but Pontius Mc Donald sends it to the DPP to be buried. He does not even give the names of the phantoms that perpetrated this atrocity.

   All of this talk of a high level police investigation was absolute nonsense, a sham, to buy time whilst the public furore in this matter died a natural death, high level police investigation my a..donkey, ladies and gentlemen the only way our police Commissioner can conduct a high level investigation, is if we put his desk on top of Mount Roraima.