[www.inewsguyana.com] – Attorney General, Anil Nandlall has criticized the recently released manifesto of the APNU+AFC coalition, describing it as a “fairy tale from Walt Disney”, while pointing out that private property are under siege and the rule of law undermined.
See Nandlall’s full statement below:
I conducted a peripheral examination of certain portions of A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change Manifesto. Some portions of it read like a fairy tale from Walt Disney and other portions are riddled with inconsistencies, legal and constitutional impossibilities; indeed, they have hatched up some solutions to problems which they themselves have caused; while they are promising to do things that have already been done.
- At page twelve (12) the following frightening statement appears, “Rights to personal property will be protected where the asset has been fairly acquired”. The seeds are being sown for the expropriation of private property, if in the opinion of the partnership, it has not been “fairly acquired”. This is a threat to personal property everywhere. It is indeed, a proposition that makes every statement in that manifesto about the rule of law and about the bill of rights ring hollow. By this statement the Coalition is saying to the Guyanese people that they will determine, whether persons acquired their property “fairly” and if in the opinion of the Coalition, the property was not “fairly acquired” then it is liable to be seized. This is constitutional anarchy being prescribed. Every single Guyanese should take cognisance. It will be observed that there is no reference to the rule of law or the constitutional right of the citizenry to be protected against compulsory acquisition of their property by the State. The previous PNC administration has compulsorily acquired hundreds of private properties from citizens, in particular from those who were opposed to the regime, paying no compensation to those persons. This authoritarian assault on the constitutionally enshrined right to own property must be carefully noted by the electorate. At a minimum, the coalition has been decent enough to forewarn the population that private property will no longer be safe.
- They propose the establishment of a Constitutional Reform Committee. We already have such a committee for several years now. Indeed, Mr. David Granger is the Chairman for the last three years and that committee met not more than three times in those three years under his chairmanship.
- Under the banner of “Constitutional Reform” there are some bizarre proposals, for example, they propose appeals from the High Court to go directly to the Caribbean Court of Justice in certain constitutional matters, thereby bypassing the Guyana Court of Appeal. No explanation, whatsoever, is offered for this most weird procedure. What sinister motive do they have for ostracizing an important link in the hierarchical chain of our Judiciary? Why this vote of no confidence against our Guyana Court of Appeal? At one time the PNC flag was flown in its compound. At that time, it was at the apex of the Judiciary. Now, the nation witnesses another proposal to emasculate this most vital cog in our judicial wheel. Recall, that they abolished the Privy Council from our Judicial system in 1970, leaving the citizens with only one opportunity to and one forum at which a High Court decision can be challenged. 42 years after, by effectively removing the Court of Appeal from the appellate process, they are proposing the very same thing i.e. leaving the citizen with only one forum to which a High Court decision can be appealed, the Caribbean Court of Justice. The rule of law is being undermined.
- They propose that they immunities of the President will be reduced. The immunities of the President have already been reduced in the 2001 Constitutional Reform process. Today, it is no different from any other Head of State in the civilised world. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. In their effort to fool the electorate, they are promising to make a mockery of the highest office of the land. What is the rationale for reducing Presidential powers but adding three “Vice Presidents” to the Cabinet in the same government?
- They promise that the new Constitution will enshrine freedom of speech and the “Bill of Rights”. Every citizen knows that our Constitution already enshrines freedom of speech and the “Bill of Rights” as fundamental rights and freedoms. Indeed, when we reformed the Constitution in 2001, we expanded the Bill of Rights over and above almost every country in the English speaking Caribbean and perhaps every country in the entire Commonwealth.
- The document promises to address the delays in confirming the appointment of members of the Judiciary and “rationalize the position of the Chief Justice and the Chancellor of the Judiciary”. This is more than comical since the entire country knows that it is the Leader of the Opposition who has steadfastly refused to agree for the confirmation of the current office holders of these two positions as is required by the Constitution. In other words, they are proposing to solve problems which they themselves have created. This seems to be a common thread running through the document. For example, they promise at page thirteen (13), adherence to the doctrine of separation of powers under the Constitution. They simply do not have a choice. That is the law of the land. However, they have constantly violated it over the last three years in the National Assembly. The High Court has ruled four times that they have done so over the last three years. Two times when they cut the budget and two times when they gagged Minister Rohee from speaking.
- They promise a freedom of information law. We have enacted such a law over four years ago.
- They promise a repeal of the Recall Legislation. This is the very piece of legislation which they called for and which they voted in support of in the National Assembly in the 9th Parliament. Their position now is a complete flip flop.