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I have wanted to comment on three events that are of the recent past but are still unresolved.
There was a tragic death by police shooting in Golden Grove on the east coast of Demerara. The young man, Mr. Bacchus, whom the police admitted investigating, was fatally shot by them in circumstances yet to be disclosed. On or about July 4, 2022, the bereaved family held a protest march starting at Golden Grove and continuing along the east coast public road. As the march passed from Mon Repos Open-Air-Market, some vendors and the mini-bus belonging to one of them were attacked by looters. The parents of the young man who was killed, Mr. and Mrs. Bacchus, at once disassociated themselves from these attacks, saying they had nothing to do with the protest they had organized. This was a teaching moment and the parents used it wisely. In a moment of high emotion, they let their supporters know that attacking innocent persons was not in keeping with their search for justice. I do not know whether the parents were commended for this stand. But we have to learn to acclaim wisdom when it comes from below because very often it comes from nowhere else.
This is not saying that wisdom never comes from elsewhere. The whole world knows by now it has been alleged that the son of the former chancellor Mr. Carl Singh described a policewoman guarding the former chancellor’s residence in inhuman and disrespectful language. The words were widely published and are not repeated here. When the policewoman filed private charges against the alleged offender, the media reported accurately (or not) that the director of the prosecution used the DPP’s powers to remove the case from the courts, on the ground that the facts did not disclose an offense under the act. The wisdom handed down was the Chancellor’s residence was not a public place, as prosecution under the act required. Other efforts for justice are perhaps in train at present. But I want to raise two matters. Normally, it is the function of any magistrate or sitting judge to decide after hearing arguments by the defense council that a case has not been made out. The question is whether the DPP in this matter has not invaded the province of the magistrate. My second comment may be controversial. When the legal system we use was being formed, judges created legal fictions in order to claim jurisdiction. I want to ask those who are lawyers trained in all these things whether the presence of a police officer, that is the woman constable on active-duty on these premises, does not qualify the premises to be declared, even as a legal fiction, a public place.
I have wanted to say, ever since this report appeared, that the former chancellor Mr. Carl Singh, though having no responsibility whatever in the offenses alleged, showed remarkable wisdom and example, by uttering an apology when he had done nothing illegal or insensitive. To my mind, the apology which some people will brush aside, was intended to say to the public, “this conduct does not have my approval.”
Having examined some of the actions of underlings, I come now to the Supreme Executive Authority. During the early stages of the 2020 general election count, I suggested that a tribunal should be documenting cases of “humans being brutal to humans.” I cast no suspicion on any faction. A columnist asked me whether I would agree to a tribunal to ensure an accurate count and I replied: “Yes, if the leaders agree.” After those developments, the President of Guyana said publicly, and reporters reported he said (and he has not denied saying): “rapes including rapes of children have taken place.” The President was challenged by the former leader of the Opposition who said: “you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.” If the Supreme Executive Authority ever supplied information to the police, or ever withdrew his allegations, these have not been disclosed even in government media. This assumed right to use authority and high office to slander and discredit communities of people, and then to trample reputations and leave it at that, is an abuse of power.