Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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The Tape
(Aired 5 April 2006)

      I do not rush to comment on everything that comes my way, however whoever wants me to comment on any matter must provide me with documented evidence that establishes their claim of the corruption or irregularity or injustice which they are alleging.

   Sometimes evidence is given to me in documented form which can make a pretty good story, but for various reasons I do not do it. These are my personal preferences, my judgement of what I think is newsworthy or in keeping with my function, for example it is not my function to identify drug dealers, the police and CANU have to do that, the most I can do is tell you that the drug dealers are taking over the place, they have compromised all levels of government, and even all three branches of the state including the judiciary, I can give you whatever evidence I have on the matter but it is you ladies and gentlemen that have to do the rest. So my function is to relay to you information of what I perceive to be in the public's interest and what is important to the nation, since above everything else I love my country, sure we have problems, sure we have total illiterates running it, but this is my country and I love it.

   Now we come the question which I want to address in this commentary, people have asked me what I think about the recorded conversation between Basil Williams and the Commissioner of Police, my first reaction was that I am not intelligent enough to determine what they were saying, even after the Kaiteur news was kind enough to produce a transcript of it for me I could make no sense of it, but after I asked a few of my close friends and advisors what they thought, I discovered that they also could not understand what was said on that tape or what was so damaging that made me feel better, what they found disturbing, as I did, was that two intelligent men, even in Guyana, could have such an illiterate conversation which neither I or my friends could understand.

   If this tape truly represents the intellectual level of Basil Williams and our Police Commissioner then they should seek occupation in some other area more in keeping with their level of discourse, stevedore comes to mind. So the claim that this is a tape comprising random conversations edited together out of context becomes a distinct possibility for me since I have been involved in audio and video editing since 1984.

    I however hold the view that the tape was recorded illegally and that it was wrong for NCN TV and Channel 69 to air it to the public in its unedited form with all of the expletives it contained. In any sort of regulated society both stations would have had their licenses revoked. Funnily enough we as a nation are not outraged at this act of bugging the Commissioners phone.  

    Given that the airing was wrong and no one seems to dispute that now, I want to concentrate on the legality of the taping of it. Now I am no lawyer and what I have to say tonight comes after consulting with some of the best lawyers in the country.

    Two local lawyers Mr. V.V Pooran and Anil Nanderlall have sought to interpret whether these recordings contravenes the law or not.     

    As far as Mr. Anil Nandalall is concerned the two things that I know about him are that he is a member of the Central Executive Committee of the PPP ands secondly the public's perception of him is that he is an outstanding lawyer, this is fuelled by the fact that he has been retained by the Attorney General and thr DPP's chambers as a special prosecutor in several matters, now I have to tell you that I don't know anything about Nandalall's competence as an attorney, what I have been told by one of the most respected legal minds in this country is that retaining him and Datadin as special prosecutors for huge fees in the Benchop and other matters are inappropriate, since the term ‘special prosecutor' applies to lawyers who have had long and distinguished careers at the bar, like Rex Mc Kay, Clarence Hughes, Miles Fitzpatrick and Ashton Chase just to name a few, these big wigs are occasionally retained to prosecute special and complex matters which may be outside of the competence of the normal young lawyers in the AG chambers, Nandalall and Datadin combined only have a total of 11 years at the bar, no matter how bright they are, members of the profession do not feel that they can measure up to the time honoured tradition which accompanies the title ‘special prosecutors'.

   Scrutinising what he wrote on the 27th March 2006 captioned quote "the English common law does not recognise a tort of invasion of privacy" end quote, established in my mind that Anil Nanderlall may not fully appreciate the full significance of the law, especially since my friend Christopher Ram, now a law student, had told me that he had found evidence to the contrary in our written constitution which Britain does not have, Ram however on Sunday 2nd invited Nandalall to his home to explain that he was going to write a letter disputing what Nandalall had written in the Stabroek on the 27th Nandalall then pens a letter to Eusi Kwayana which was published in the Kaiteur newspaper on Tuesday 4th April in which he uses sections 154 A and 146 of the constitution pointed out to him by Christopher Ram. There is however one issue that needs to be brought out in Nandalall's second letter to the Kaiteur on the 4th March, he is wrong in his assertion to Kwayana that there are sections in the constitution which are unenforceable, in my investigation numerous Big Wigs in the legal profession and they are unanimous in their view, if it is in the constitution it is enforceable once someone invokes it. And the government is about to find out that article 154 A is enforceable, since David James is filing a constitutional motion under this very article of the constitution against the Amerindian Act.

    It is true that nowhere in our constitution does it actually say that thou shalt not bug thy neighbour's phone, but both Pooran and Nanderlall have completely misunderstood how they should interpret the constitution and the common law in this matter.

   Article 154 A of our Constitution makes these provisions quote "the executive, the legislative and the judiciary and all organs and agencies of Government and as applicable, all natural and legal persons, shall respect and uphold the human rights enshrined in the international treaties to which Guyana has acceded" Among those treaties which are listed in the fourth schedule of the constitution is the covenant on civil and political rights article 17 of which makes this provision quote "no one shall be subject to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence". End quote! No other constitution in the Caribbean carries such a provision and let me say this, Christopher Ram by exposing this provision in our constitution and its significance may have altered all jurisprudence in this country forever, especially since we Guyanese can now go to a proper court, the CCJ!

   The general principle in constitutional law is that it binds only the state in relation to its citizens, but that cannot be applied where the Constitution itself imposes an express duty or obligation on others, as this Article 154 A does.

    Additionally Article 146 (1) of our constitution says this quote  "except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference and freedom from interference with his correspondence" end quote. In this case again Nandalall is wrong correspondence must include telephone conversations. Even in common law two men have a legal right to communicate privately with each other without interference, by bugging their conversation you have interfered with their freedom to communicate without interference and so you have broken the law.

    The law certainly been broken in this matter, but it was not Williams or Felix that broke it, whoever bugged Felix's phone broke the law, channel 69 broke the law and the constitution and since the constitution addresses itself to the sate, the state owned media by broadcasting that tape broke the law and violated the constitution! Specifically articles 154 A and 146 (1).