Jagdeo flays APNU/AFC over attempts to intimidate judiciary

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…warns of return of repressive conviction

Pay heed to the signals, juxtapose the current incidents against the ominous occurrences under the dark dictatorship era under the Burnham regime and one can conclude that the repressive mindset of the old People’s National Congress (PNC) has returned, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo warned.

Jagdeo drew this supposition as he sharply berated the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition for its recent attacks against the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo
Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary, during a Monday morning news conference, warned that this spate of attacks not only sought to destroy the credibility of current members of the judiciary, but also sent a clear message to incoming members of the wrath they would face if they ruled against the desires of the Government.

“If the Government does not get its way; if it does not get decisions that are not favourable to the Government, then Judges and Magistrates and other members of the judiciary will be subjected to campaigns led by the State media to destroy their credibility and hopefully this will, in the thinking of those who manage the affairs at the national level, intimidate Judges and the others to be compliant and give decisions that are favourable to the Government for fear of being publicly ridiculed or chastised by the Government,” Jagdeo explained.

Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh

He noted that these attacks were reminiscent of the days when the PNC flag, instead of the national flag, flew over the Court of Appeal.

“It is the same repressive mindset emerging… It is this mindset that drove our economy into the ground, caused Guyana to accumulate one of the highest per capita debts in the world, bankrupt our economy, drew many people away, set back development for many decades,” he outlined, noting that there were countless other incidents which supported his theory.

The APNU/AFC Government is blistering under fire for its attacks against the Chancellor of the Judiciary following his dismissal of a State-sponsored appeal against a High Court decision which quashed a racial incitement charge against former President Jagdeo.

Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams was imprudently critical of the decision, labelling the dismissal a “vain attempt” to free the Opposition Leader. He indicated his desire to take the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Echoing sentiments previously expressed by his legal adviser Anil Nandlall, Jagdeo pointed out that the AG was never a party in the proceedings, since it was brought by a private citizen – political activist Christopher Ram back in May 2015.

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran, SC, also took a swing at the Government regarding its attacks on the judiciary.

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams

Ramkarran observed that these alarming developments could not be ignored and were in fact unprecedented in their savagery.

“Even in the 1980s, when the judiciary was under severe pressure, Chancellor Victor Crane could announce that socialist principles would guide him in his decision-making, in the sure knowledge that even if criticised, he would not be subjected to the demeaning insults, as made against Chancellor Carl Singh.”

According to Ramkarran, “This open, blatant and shameless intimidation is not meant only for this Chancellor… It is a message to the next Chancellor and Chief Justice who will be appointed shortly, and for the entire judiciary, to toe the line.” He also condemned the deafening silence from critical stakeholders like the Guyana Bar Association (GBA) on this worrying development. (Guyana Times)

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