AG, Nand­lall clash over losses, law school

Stabroek News - - REGIONAL NEWS -

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Basil Wil­liams yesterday clashed again with his pre­de­ces­sor Anil Nand­lall over his per­for­mance in the courts as well as the planned es­tab­lish­ment of a lo­cal law school.

“Can I ask my learned friend to name the cases I have lost?” Wil­liams en­quired dur­ing his con­tri­bu­tion to the fi­nal day of the bud­get de­bate and he then pro­ceeded to pro­vide fig­ures for the cases he has won and lost for the year.

He said in 2018, out of 277 cases, 118 were ei­ther dis­missed or dis­con­tin­ued, 110 were won by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Cham­bers, with or with­out costs, and 68 were lost. “So, where is the los­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Cham­bers? Our win­nings dou­bled what we lost,” he said.

He added that among the sev­eral high-pro­file cases thrown out by the High Court were the chal­lenge by PPP mem­ber and Elec­tions Com­mis­sioner Bibi Shadick to the Minister of Com­mu­ni­ties and the Chief Elec­tion Of­fi­cer, which he said was an at­tempt to pre­vent the hold­ing of the Novem­ber 12th Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions.

Turn­ing his at­ten­tion to the Court of Ap­peal, he said among his big wins was the uphold­ing of Pres­i­dent David Granger’s de­ci­sion to ap­point re­tired judge James Patterson to the of­fice of Chair­man of the Guyana Elec­tions Com­mis­sion (GECOM) as con­sti­tu­tional.

Wil­liams then pro­ceeded to list sev­eral cases won at the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice (CCJ), in­clu­sive of the uphold­ing of the pres­i­den­tial term limit.

“I want him to show me where they won com­pa­ra­ble cases in the CCJ un­der the ten­ure of the Hon­ourable Mem­ber. What he did was to leave us with an enor­mous amount of penny judge­ments…,” he said above heck­ling.

At times Wil­liams’ pre­sen­ta­tion could not heard given the loud ex­changes be­tween the Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment on the gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion sides. Speaker Dr. Bar­ton Scot­land had to re­peat­edly bang his gavel and though the clam­our sub­sided, the peace was short­lived. Within sec­onds, the shout­ing would re­sume.

“Mr. Speaker, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Cham­bers has been very, very ac­tive. We don’t have time to be run­ning af­ter fake news. Our record speaks for it­self…,” Wil­liams said be­fore cit­ing more cases.

Law school

Ear­lier, Nand­lall, who made the first pre­sen­ta­tion on the fi­nal day of the de­bate, charged that cases were just one of many things Wil­liams is re­spon­si­ble for los­ing.

“Mr. Speaker, it is one thing to say that you lose law books; it is an­other thing to say that you lose cases; it is an­other thing to say that you lose the chair­man­ship of your party but when you lose a whole law school, that is cause for con­cern. How do you lose a law school? I do not know, Mr. Speaker,” Nand­lall told the Na­tional Assem­bly.

Wil­liams, who spoke af­ter him, blamed Nand­lall for de­lay­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a law school here and again ac­cused him of con­spir­ing with the Chair­man of the Coun­cil for Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion (CLE) to frus­trate the de­vel­op­ment. “The Joseph Haynes Law School (JHLS) was sub­jected to an­other shift­ing of the CLE’s po­si­tion to deny Guyana its rights to es­tab­lish a law school. How­ever, we will con­tinue press­ing the CLE, the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, the Ju­di­ciary, the Depart­ment of Law at the Univer­sity of Guyana and the op­po­si­tion for their sup­port of the es­tab­lish­ment of the law school,” Wil­liams said.

“He [Nand­lall] wrote, he emailed the Chair­man of the CLE to tell him don’t worry with this school. We didn’t get per­mis­sion to sup­port it. That is what he did and that is why he had to leave in dis­grace,” Wil­liams said to shouts of “shame” from his fel­low gov­ern­ment mem­bers.

Wil­liams once again pointed out that Guyana re­mains re­stricted by the CLE to a 25-stu­dent quota at the Hugh Wood­ing

Law School in Trinidad and Tobago, while both Trinidad and Ja­maica are not sim­i­larly re­stricted. “If they are gonna do that… let’s see what’s gonna hap­pen,” he said.

He as­sured that once the ex­ist­ing quota is re­moved with the es­tab­lish­ment of a lo­cal school, the hard­ship suf­fered by young Guyanese who study in Trinidad will end.

CLE Chair­man Regi­nal Ar­mour SC has said that the law school, which is a joint ven­ture ini­tia­tive, is a non-starter un­der CLE Treaty.

“The con­cept of other per­sons form­ing a law school and bring­ing them to the Coun­cil for ap­proval doesn’t fit within the Treaty and that is one of the points we have made to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral, that his gov­ern­ment needs to re­con­sider in terms of the pro­posal that has been brought to us so far,” Ar­mour told re­porters in Septem­ber shortly af­ter the 50th meet­ing of CLE con­cluded here.

In Jan­uary, 2017, the Guyana Gov­ern­ment signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MoU) with the Univer­sity Col­lege of the Caribbean and the Law Col­lege of the Amer­i­cas for the con­struc­tion of the lo­cal law school. It is ex­pected that the in­vest­ment will cost ap­prox­i­mately US$75 mil­lion.

Wil­liams had re­peat­edly in­sisted that ap­proval was given to Guyana and that gov­ern­ment was go­ing ahead with its plans. Last year land at Univer­sity of Guyana’s Turkeyen Cam­pus was iden­ti­fied for the con­struc­tion of the school.

Piece­meal

And while Nand­lall said “work ap­pears to be done in an ad hoc and a piece­meal man­ner” by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Cham­bers, Wil­liams used his pre­sen­ta­tion to re­but this as­ser­tion.

He in­sisted that the Cham­bers have been very busy dur­ing 2018 and pro­ceeded to men­tion some of the ini­tia­tives that were ex­e­cuted, par­tic­u­larly by the Draft­ing Sec­tion. He noted that sev­eral bills, in­clud­ing the Sui­cide Preven­tion Bill, which seeks to re­peal the law that crim­i­nalises sui­cide at­tempts, the Mov­able Prop­erty Se­cu­rity Bill and the Data Pro­tec­tion Bill will be brought be­fore the Na­tional Assem­bly in 2019.

Af­ter in­form­ing of the ca­pac­ity build­ing ini­tia­tives ex­e­cuted dur­ing 2018, he pro­vided in­for­ma­tion on the work of the de­part­ments which fall un­der his re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The work done in the ar­eas of state as­sets re­cov­ery, anti-cor­rup­tion and an­ti­money laun­der­ing did not es­cape his at­ten­tion.

He said that the State As­sets Re­cov­ery Agency (SARA) is work­ing with the Min­istry of Le­gal Af­fairs and the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs to re­cover revenue lost through gold ship­ments leav­ing Guyana. “There have been sev­eral cases where amounts de­clared at the Cheddi Ja­gan Air­port was vastly dif­fer­ent to what was de­clared at JFK, in New York,” he said, be­fore adding that the agency is also seek­ing co­op­er­a­tion with Brazil to iden­tify and “if pos­si­ble” re­cover gold held in Brazil due to il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties by Guyanese smug­glers.

Mean­while, Nand­lall, who was very crit­i­cal of the work done in the le­gal arena, high­lighted gov­ern­ment’s failed prom­ise to de­liver con­sti­tu­tional re­form.

He pointed out that af­ter four years, this is yet to be re­alised. “Over the past four years, all we have had is a re­port done by a com­mit­tee es­tab­lished by the Prime Minister… That is the sum to­tal of the gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort in four years in de­liv­er­ing one of its ma­jor cam­paign prom­ises,” he said.

He also high­lighted gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to con­sti­tute the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (JSC) a year af­ter its life had ended and to ap­point coroners to hear in­quests three years af­ter amend­ments to the law were hastily passed in the Na­tional Assem­bly.

Nand­lall also ex­pressed his con­cern over judges and pros­e­cu­tors be­ing trained to­gether in al­ter­na­tive sen­tenc­ing and other ar­eas un­der the Jus­tice Sec­tor Strength­en­ing Pro­gramme.

“I wish to em­pha­sise that it is im­proper for judges and pros­e­cu­tors to be trained to­gether. The ap­pear­ance vi­o­lates the can­nons of nat­u­ral jus­tice. In our ad­ver­sar­ial jus­tice sys­tem, the prose­cu­tor and the judge have dif­fer­ent roles to play; they are not rep­re­sent­ing the same in­ter­est. I call for an im­me­di­ate ces­sa­tion of this in­ces­tu­ous prac­tice, which I see re­cently de­vel­op­ing,” he said.

Nand­lall also opined that the bud­get is not one that is aligned with the re­al­i­ties of what is tran­spir­ing on the ground.

He pointed out that aside from all the so­cial and eco­nomic is­sues, the pub­lic is anx­ious to know the plans for the oil and gas sec­tor.

“Yet, the minister is his bud­get men­tions not a word about lo­cal con­tent leg­is­la­tion or the Petroleum Com­mis­sion of Guyana Bill. These two pieces of leg­is­la­tion will con­sti­tute the foun­da­tion nec­es­sary to prop­erly man­age and scru­ti­nise this sec­tor to en­sure that Guyana gets its fair share,” he said, while not­ing that their ab­sence are “gap­ing” holes in the bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion.

Basil Wil­liams

Anil Nand­lall

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.