Accessing hundreds, if not thousands of death records for citizens across the country, is an abuse of State power and members of the coalition Administration could soon find themselves in legal hot water, over the party’s access to death records held by the General Registrar’s Office (GRO).
Former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall gave the damning conclusion on Tuesday, on the outskirts of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) where the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is currently engaged in a recount exercise of the votes cast on March 2.
During the course of the now three weeks long activity, agents for the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC), have repeatedly raised objections to votes cast on the grounds that persons would have either been dead or migrated.
Defending the coalition’s access to the death records, Caretaker Minister Cathy Hughes had told media operatives that the persons were identified by the party through its fieldwork and that the certificates were later applied for and the $300 fee paid.
An article was subsequently published in the State media on May 20, which identified a dead Essequibian as having voted despite being deceased.
The coalition’s claims not only ended when information came to light that the individual had not, in fact, been ticked off as having been issued a ballot but according to Nandlall, the family never gave permission to anyone to uplift the record.
According to the former Attorney General, he has since been in contact with the family which supplied him with a copy of the original death certificate.
That document juxtaposed against the one published by the Guyana Chronicle and held up as proof by the party, would reveal that the published document was issued on January 31 of this year.
Notably, it does not bear the identification number for the dead woman while the first certificate supplied by the family does bear the name.
The former Minister of Legal Affairs was quick to point out that himself and a cadre of party lawyers have since made themselves available to the family to prosecute the possible legal infractions.
He told media operatives it appears that APNU/AFC was securing the records by using Government apparatus to extract people’s personal documents without their permission “and use it, worse yet for political purposes…we don’t know how many thousands of these have been generated for the purpose of this.”
According to the attorney-at-law, he will be advising the family of the deceased woman on how to proceed with prosecuting the matter, should they wish to pursue the infractions.
He posited that there could likely be hundreds if not thousands of such documents that have been generated by APNU/AFC.
Nandlall was adamant that the records in question could only be accessed by family members and that this authorisation had not been provided.
According to Nandlall, the APNU/AFC, in addition to possibly breaching the Access to Information laws, could very well be guilty of a range of other electoral-related legal infractions.
Speaking with members of the media, Nandlall was adamant the family had never applied for the document that was published in the State media.