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On August 4, 2022, eight Members of Parliament, from the Opposition Parliamentary benches, were unlawfully suspended from the National Assembly, four from four sittings and the remaining four from six sittings, all without due process.
Legal action was taken and there were several hearings before Justice Damone Younge, a High Court Judge via the zoom platform. At the last hearing, which was held on Friday, November 11, 2022, oral arguments were made by both sides before Justice Younge. Subsequent to the arguments, Justice Younge informed all parties, including media houses that were on the zoom platform, that December 8, 2022 at 09:15hrs, she will hand down her decision. She was expected to rule whether the Court has Jurisdiction to hear the applications brought by the affected Members of Parliament; and whether a conservatory order will be given to ensure that the Members of Parliament return to the National Assembly while the matter is under consideration.
My colleagues and I were all in place via the zoom platform for Decision Day, Thursday, December 8, 2022, not realising that the decision was no longer being handed down as was promised. Senior Counsel, Mr. Roysdale Forde, MP, subsequently informed us of an email he received stating, “due to recent Events of the Coronavirus Pandemic and in accordance with the updated COVID-19 Supreme Court Protocols, the matter is now refixed for ruling via the zoom platform on January 16, 2023.” Editor, I found this explanation to be unprofessional since the matter has always been held virtually. Also, I have a matter at the Magistrate’s Court, and I have been attending in person. All this is happening with COVID-19 still ubiquitous.
Editor, I would also like to bring to your attention that on Friday, December 9th, 2022 the following two cases, presided over by two different trial judges, were heard in-person in the Supreme Court. The first, with former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams, SC involving current Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Anil Nandlall, SC and former President, Mr. Donald Ramotar. The second being the matter involving Ms. Roxanne Myers against Messrs. Sanjeev Datatdin, Lennox Shuman and Bharrat Jagdeo.
It is public knowledge that staff at the Supreme Court are working at full strength during their usual working hours, 08:00hrs to 16:30hrs. Is there a different protocol of which the public and clients who have pending matters in the high court are unaware? Did the Judges for the two afore-mentioned cases breach the COVID-19 Protocols for the Supreme Court? Is there cause for concern about discrimination in our justice system? I am at a complete loss and cannot help but wonder whether every effort is being made for this matter not to be concluded in a reasonable time and for Justice to prevail.
I would be grateful if Justice Damone Younge were to make public the new COVID-19 Pandemic measures for the Supreme Court, which I am oblivious to as a client, and her reason for re-using the identical zoom credentials for January 16, 2023.
Member of Parliament