Over and over I have told you that there is no justice in Guyana and it is
preventing us from enjoying any democracy at all since the Executive controls
both the Judiciary and the Legislature, there is no separation of powers and
that those who are calling for shared Governance are right and should escalate
the demand since abuses are affecting the wellbeing of a substantial section of
the population in this nation and if you do not stand up now and demand justice,
all, will forever be lost.
In March 2001 the Privy Council of Great Britain handed down their decision in
the Observer Publications matter from Antigua and Barbuda, it is identified at
the Privy Council website as appeal number 3 of 2000.
decision was handed down on the 19th March 2001 and forever changed the
concept of any state monopoly of radio anywhere in the commonwealth.
Here is what happened in Antigua and I want you to tell me, how it differs
from my own actions here in Guyana.
Observer Publications are the owners of a newspaper in Antigua and in March
1995 they applied for a license to operate an FM Radio Station. At that time
the Government of Antigua, as far as the record goes were the only ones allowed
to operate a radio station. Like Guyana the Antigua laws carries the following
provisions in its Telecommunications Act, section 4 prohibits any person from
establishing a telecommunications station or installing, working or operating
any telecommunications apparatus except under, and in accordance with a licence
granted under the Act and subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be
prescribed by rules made under the Act. Any breach of the section is considered
a criminal offence punishable by penalty, including imprisonment and forfeiture
The Observer Company applied to Mr. Matthew the Telecommunications Officer in Antigua for a license to broadcast a radio signal on the 25th March 1995.
Matthew responded on the 19th April 1995 i.e. one month later
telling them that he required more information about the intended broadcast,
but one of the pieces of additional information he was requiring was a business
plan; ladies and gentlemen the Telecommunications officer of Antigua was asking
Observer to produce a five year business plan, this was of course ridiculous
since the government of Antigua was the owner of a competing radio station, and
so whilst the Observer group produced all the other information regarding the
broadcast, its power, locations of the main broadcast equipment, repeaters, antenna
etc. they rightly did not supply the requested business plan.
After some further communication between the parties the Telecommunications
officer Matthews then wrote Observer on the 9th June 1995 informing
them that there is no policy to support the licensing of Private Broadcasting
Stations in Antigua at that time." This was a lie since there was a private
radio station operating in Antigua but it did not form part of the case or the
decision so I will leave it out in this comment so as not to make it too long.
In other words from the date of the first application to the denial for a
license the communication occupied a period of a little over 3 months, ladies
and gentlemen in my case I applied to the NFMU since 1993 and no answer has
ever been given.
than a year went by, apparently without any progress in the matter, then on 23
July 1996 Mr. Samuel Derrick wrote on behalf of the Observer Company to Mr.
Matthew Chief Telecoms officer of Antigua notifying him of their intention to
commence transmission on 91.1 megahertz from 6 A.M. on the 1st September
1996 as a test broadcast, since they alleged that by refusing to give
them a license to broadcast their radio signal, he was violating their
fundamental right to freedom of speech as guaranteed by the constitution, they also
told him that the only reason they were writing him to alert him of
their intentions at all was so that he can give notice to any
international agencies that may have to be alerted that Antigua was
broadcasting an FM signal at 91.1 MHz.
The Observer officials also
informed Lester Bird the Prime Minister and Minister of Broadcasting in Antigua
that they were going to initiate this broadcast and he responded to them
through his Permanent Secretary reiterating that were they to do so, they would
be breaking the law. They nevertheless began their broadcast on 1st September
The next day on the 2nd September 1996 nine police officers arrived
at Scotts Hill the observer broadcast station with a search and seizure warrant
signed by the Chief Magistrate of Antigua. The warrant alleged that there was
reasonable cause to believe that a telecommunications apparatus was concealed
at the Observer Radio Station. This was of course ridiculous since this was a
10,000 watt transmitter not the 500 watt that VCT was using here, and Observer
had told the Telecommunications officer Matthew in their application where the
transmitter would be located so there was no question about it being concealed
on the premises and the equipment was seized.
The case was filed in the High Court of Antigua in September 1996, and came up
for hearing before Judge Benjamin J. in December 1996 and judgment and was
delivered on 27th November 1997.
The judge rejected the arguments for the applicant based on discrimination and
legitimate expectation of receiving a broadcast license. But the judge did hold
the warrant for search and seizure invalid, and quashed it, thereby giving the
company liberty to apply for damages for trespass occasioned by the unlawful
entry upon its premises.
The Company Appealed the decision which did not uphold
their constitutional right to broadcast and the government cross-appealed on
the warrant being illegally issued. The Court of Appeal in Antigua heard the
case on 13 April 1999 and gave judgment on 14 May 1999. The company's appeal
was unanimously dismissed, and by a majority of two to one the Appeal Court decided
that the search and seize warrant was valid i.e. they reversed the lower
court's ruling that the search was illegal but upheld the lower Court's decision
that Observer's constitutional rights were not violated in the matter.
Not once at anytime did anyone threaten to lock up anyone from Observer Publications
as criminals and not once was the question of any criminal act pursued or
mentioned in any court in Antigua as happened here. This judge has accused me
of criminal acts and I am checking to see if I can get any satisfaction under
the law against him.
The matter was taken to the Privy Council in the UK in November 2000 by the Observer
Group and the decision of the Privy Council was given in March 2001; I started
broadcasting in July 2001, 4 months after that decision, you get the picture
Ladies and gentlemen? I did it because I knew that what I was doing was right
After hearing the case the Law Lords in the UK ruled as follows 1. That
Observers' constitutional rights to free speech were violated along with
their rights in three other sections of the constitution 2. They ordered that a
radio broadcasting licence be immediately issued to Observer as applied for at
91.1 MHz or on such other frequency as the High Court, on prompt application by
the Attorney-General, may approve. 3. They ordered that a business licence be
issued immediately to Observer. 4. They ordered that the seized equipment be
returned forthwith. 5. They gave Leave to Observer to apply to the High Court
for the assessment and award of damages in the event that the equipment had
suffered any damage when it was seized; and 6. They ordered the Government of
Antigua to pay all of Observer legal fees since the matter began in Antigua including the Privy Council costs. At all times, all of this was known to
the judge hearing my case in Guyana, since this observer case, was to the best
of my knowledge, the only precedent invoked by Mr. Rex Mc Kay in my matter at
A few things here catches the attention immediately,
no matter how bad Lester Bird was, the rule of law worked in Antigua, the Observer
Company sought permission to broadcast in March 1995, they got the government's
position as perverse as it was around a three months later, they began to
broadcast in September 1995 and by November 2000 the case had passed through
both courts in Antigua and was before the Privy Council and a decision was
given 4 months later, my case started in 2001 and we had to force this judge to
give what my submission to the appeal court of Guyana labels a perverse and
unacceptable decision in 2007, and my application for a broadcast license for
radio was sought since 1993!
The Observer case took around 6 years to be resolved from the date of the
application to broadcast to the day the Privy Council rendered its decision; my
case is now pending for 14 years. In view of this decision from the Privy
Council a situation which is exact in every detail to my own, I did not break
the law ladies and gentlemen, those who sought, and are still seeking, to
deprive me of my constitutional rights, they are!
is no Justice in Guyana ladies and gentlemen none at all.