Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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The Supreme Court
(Aired 13 June 2011)

    In my commentary The Rule of Law (Aired 5 May 2003) I told the nation that Mr. Bovell Drakes must be appointed. I am happy that I did so since Justice Bovell Drakes is turning out to be a very good judge by Guyana standards.

   Tonight I want to look again at this most important aspect of our governance. In 2003 I said that as it functions on behalf of the Guyanese people, the rule of law does not exist. The two British Judges Baker and Lewis made that quite plain, their findings are summarised in my commentary "Judicial system" aired in Guyana on  30th November 2001. You see ladies and gentlemen the clown prince of Guyana Joey Jagan can accuse me of all sorts of transgressions, from falsifying my data, to misrepresenting it to the public, but more than one university have asked to use my research for the purpose of teaching and writing on Guyana in other parts of the world and my comments have become, for me, a major source of information in my research for new commentaries. I don't write on stinky garbage on 63 beach or compare California, a US state with a budget which were it a country it would be the 4th biggest economy on the planet, with Guyana, declared by the World Bank as a heavily indebted poor country some years ago, only a complete clown would try to make such a comparison. Stick to writing about the stinky garbage on 63 beach Joey and leave serious analysis or our situation to your betters.    

   And I want to add that when I am less stressed after we deal with the ACB and the ERC, I think I will have a chat with my lawyer as to whether this clown's letter and the one by Roshan Khan calling me a liar is libellous or not.

     Now I will return to tonight's comment, how important is this rule of law to our lives? Well let me quote again tonight from a statement made by Lord Paddy Ashdown, the British house of lords MP Tapped to head the UN's Bosnia's peacekeeping operation in the 1990's in an interview with Reuters and I quote him "we made a big mistake here [in Bosnia] and we made a big mistake in Kosovo and that was not to realise that the rule of law comes first, we thought that democracy came first, we gave this country [Bosnia] as many elections as they could hold and thought that we were making progress, we weren't, since you can't have an operating democracy if there is no rule of law, you can't have a decent economy, decent politics etc. without it, so we have to start over"

   In the Kaiteur newspaper of Friday 27th May 2011 Peeping Tom gave us a few troubling pieces of information. He says that in March 2007 the IDB approved two loans totalling some 25 million US for the improvement of Guyana's justice system, according to the Peeper the first loan of 15 million US has been fully disbursed and implementation has been completed and the second loan of 10 million US only 3.5 million has been disbursed to date this means, according to the Peeper we spent 18.5 million US dollars on our justice system between 2008 and 2011 and what do we have to show for it? The simple answer is nothing! And so I am also forced to ask the same question, where did it go.

 Let's put this in perspective 18.5 million US is approximately 4 billion Guyana dollars, for the past several years the annual subvention to the supreme court was approximately one billion a year, in a recent commentary I pointed to this low subvention and I said that whilst I did not have anything against the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport, to give that ministry a bigger budget than the supreme court including the magistrates, given the poor state of our legal system is a travesty of monumental proportions. I actually would give the Supreme Court which includes the magistracy 2 or 3 billion a year to make the legal system more efficient and independent, pay our judges and magistrates better, extend their working life to 70 years old and to remove them from any possibility of influence and intimidation, I would free them from paying duty and income taxes and make their working environment more enabling to fearlessly dispense justice.

   So the IDB loan of roughly 4 billion Guyana dollars is equal to nearly 4 years of the annual operating subvention from the budget to run the supreme court and the magistracy, is the registry in better shape with better paid and better qualified personnel? Are the judges now free of the drudgery of writing every word in their courts in long hand? I was in court recently and I did not see it, are the courtrooms sound proofed and air-conditioned? I also did not see it; are the mini buses which park across the road from the supreme court policed more aggressively to stop the huge noise including blowing of horns around the supreme court to ensure a quiet atmosphere more conducive to conduct the legal business of the nation? again the answer is no in fact when I was waiting in the Supreme court looking west to the Stabroek marker the Prime Minister passed and the sirens of his police entourage vehicles were blaring, showing his total lack of respect for the rule of law.

    The lawyers who take matters to the Appeal Court informed me that the Appeal Court has produced very few written decisions since March 2009 i.e. it is the opinion of the senior and distinguished lawyers I spoke with, that rather than write their decisions which are being overturned at the CCJ, our Appeal Court has apparently not sought to write better judgements, the court has simply stopped producing any written judgements at all.

    So we come back to the Peeper where did this 3.7 billion Guyana dollars go? I believe that the government owes the people in this country, who are being deprived of due process, an explanation as to where this money went, since it is their taxes which will have to pay for it.

  There is a misconception by the citizens in this country about being a tax payer, quite a few think that only the big ones pay taxes and so it is only the big ones who have a right to demand accountability from the government, it is not true, this year 50 billion Guyana dollars will be collected by VAT alone, last year around 21 billion was collected from businesses big and small and around 20 billion was collected from private individuals, ladies and gentlemen do not sell yourself short, if you are living here and are a legal citizen if you bought one bottle of water, you are paying taxes in this country and that gives you the right to demand better governance.

   Finally in the Kaiteur News of 4th June 2011, I saw an astonishing article produced by that paper, during the recent April 2011 criminal assizes two judges named by the newspaper were allocated 97 criminal matters each, an impossible task, predictably only five were resolved.

On 10th January 2002 I did a commentary which was based on an article published in Foreign Affairs Magazine September/October 2001 by one Professor M.A. Thomas an economist at the University of Maryland who had looked at the 41 HIPC nations and I am quoting directly, it is not supposed to reflect on any single person in Guyana you have to draw your own conclusions these are Professor Thomas' statements and I quote  "At the same time governments officials protect themselves by deliberately destroying the fabric of accountability, it is misleading to say simply, that systems of accountability are weak or non-existent, someone is actively, deliberately weakening or neglecting them to hide the high levels of corruption and incompetence that exists. People charged with maintaining records falsify or destroy them, people who are responsible for nominating Judges choose those who are obedient rather than those who are independent and honest, people allocating resources underfund judiciaries and audit offices, in the absence of the necessary controls all types of abuses become possible from petty corruption to human rights violations. When most of government is corrupt the government is rendered powerless to sanction its own members or reform itself"

    Nearly 10 years after Thomas' study we are only now waking up to what can happen and believe me, if good men don't do anything, it will get worse.