14th Aug 2020
Source: NewsRoom Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan moments ago dismissed the 19 fraud charges against President Irfaan Ali which were filed under the David Granger administration over the sale of state lands in “Pradoville 2”. The matter was previously called before… Read more
Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan moments ago dismissed the 19 fraud charges against President Irfaan Ali which were filed under the David Granger administration over the sale of state lands in “Pradoville 2”.
The matter was previously called before the Chief Magistrate at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on August 6, 2020, where Ali’s attorney Devindra Kissoon made an application for the charges to be dismissed on the basis that the president is immune from suit as per Article 182 of the Constitution.
The Chief Magistrate had previously adjourned the matter to October 26, 2020, but Kissoon wrote again to various parties including the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and spoke with the counsel of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) renewing his application that the charges be dismissed since Article 182(2) of the Constitution mandates that no criminal proceedings shall be continued against a sitting President in respect of any done by him in his private capacity.
Attorney Kissoon has also argued in his letter that it was not in the public interest to prosecute a sitting President and to do so would violate the prosecutors code of conduct adopted in 2018.
Ali, through his attorney, has always maintained that not only do the 19 charges levelled against him not amount to an offence known to law, but even if proven, could not lead to a conviction.
The Chief Magistrate called the matter forward Friday, where prosecutor Patrice Henry, in response to Kissoon’s communication, advised the Court that SOCU has taken a decision that it was not in the public interest to prosecute a sitting President and to so do would violate Article 182(2) of the constitution.
The Chief Magistrate ultimately ruled in Ali’s favour wholly discontinuing all charges against him.
In an invited comment from the President, he emphatically stated that he was very grateful to his attorney Kissoon who stood by side from time investigations commenced to the proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court where Kissoon quickly secured his release on his own recognisance, to tirelessly representing his interests in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Kissoon had successfully obtained successive stays of the Magistrate’s Court proceedings pending the hearing of those civil matters, giving Ali room to campaign and contest the national elections, eventually resulting in him being elected President.
The Court of Appeal was scheduled to rule on an appeal filed by him Friday at 2.30 pm, but it unclear whether those proceedings will proceed in light of the dismissal.
President Ali also expressed gratitude to the Chief Magistrate for her swift and decisive action, and to the members of the judiciary who allowed him an opportunity to be fairly heard.
Finally, he thanked all of his supporters for their unyielding belief in his innocence and characterized the charges as “politically motivated and baseless”, amounting to nothing more than a transparent and poorly orchestrated and failed attempt to prevent him from ascending to the office of the President.
He expressed the hope that with the dismissal of the charges, the path would now be clear for him and the PPP Government to rapidly develop and unite Guyana for the benefit of all Guyanese.
24th Jun 2020
Source: The St Kitts Nevis Observer THE Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), on Tuesday, ordered the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to halt the electoral process pending its decision on whether or not the Court of Appeal had jurisdiction to interpret… Read more
Source: The St Kitts Nevis Observer
THE Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), on Tuesday, ordered the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to halt the electoral process pending its decision on whether or not the Court of Appeal had jurisdiction to interpret Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution to mean “more valid votes are cast.”
The March 2 poll has yet to be decided after a recount revealed the opposition coalition the winner…But this has been challenged by GECOM which claims 25 percent of the votes cast were not valid, giving the ruling coalition the win.
In the appeal filed by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo and its Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali, the CCJ ordered that: “The Guyana Elections Commission and its officers and agents take no step to prejudice the fair hearing of this Application including but not limited to issuing a declaration of the results of the elections held on 2nd March 2020, until this Court issues final orders following the hearing and determination of the questions raised before this Honourable Court in the said Application.”
The Order was handed down by a panel of judges led by President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders in the case – Mohammed Irfaan Ali and Bharrat Jagdeo v Eslyn David, the Chief Elections Officer and others.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ali and Jagdeo, through their attorneys Trinidad Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes and Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall – had applied for special leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision in the CCJ with the intention of having it struck out. The Court of Appeal’s decision was handed down on Monday, however, it agreed to stay its order for a period of three days based on a request by Attorney-at-Law Kashir Khan, who was representing Change Guyana and Citizenship Initiative in the original case brought by David.
While the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams had contended the decision of the Court of Appeal could not have been appealed at the level of the CCJ in light of the fact that the Caribbean Court of Justice Act, Chapter 3:07 limits the appellate jurisdiction of the Court in Section 4 (3), the CCJ relied on Section 8 of the Caribbean Court of Justice Act, Cap 3:07 of the Laws of Guyana to issue its orders.
The country’s apex court took into account its overriding objective, including its inherent power to actively manage cases and make orders as may be necessary to meet the ends of justice as stated in Rule 1.3 (2) of the Caribbean Court of Justice (Appellate Jurisdiction) Rules, 2019.
In addition to freezing the electoral process, the CCJ, ordered that case management be done on Thursday. It ordered that: “A Case Management Conference be held on Thursday 25th June 2020 at 3:00 pm via video conference pursuant to Part 8.2(f) of the Caribbean Court of Justice (Appellate Jurisdiction), Rules 2019 with a view to a proposed hearing, to determine issues raised in the Application, on the 1 st day of July 2020 at 10:00 am via video conference.”
Hours after the application was filed on Tuesday, the CCJ, through its Deputy Registrar and Marshal, Gizel Thomas-Roberts had informed the parties in the case that an order would be handed down today.
“I have been instructed by the Bench to inform that the Court will no later than Wednesday 24th June, 2020 issue an Order that (a) maintains the status quo until further order; (b) orders the holding of a CMC (Case Management Conference) in this matter on Thursday 25th June, 2020 at 3:00pm with a view towards (c) a full hearing of all the matters in dispute on Wednesday 1st July, 2020 at 10:00am,” Thomas-Roberts said in a notice to parties involved. The Orders were subsequently issued.
Notably, while the Court of Appeal interpreted the Article 177 (2) (b) to mean “more valid votes are cast” and has since stayed its order, it was unable, due to its limited jurisdiction, to restrict the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, from submitting his Election Report. That Report was submitted to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh on Tuesday before the CCJ issued its order.
Meanwhile, in a letter to the Chair of GECOM and her Attorney Kim Kyte-Thomas on Tuesday, PPP/C Attorney Devindra Kissoon asked the Elections Commission to hold its hands in light of the case filed by Ali and Jagdeo in the CCJ.
“In light of the pending appeal, we respectfully write this letter to request that you undertake to take no further steps in matters relating to the Regional and General Elections, including matters relating to the report of the Chief Elections Officer dated and submitted to GECOM today, June 23, 2020, until the matter is finally resolved by the CCJ,” Kissoon said in the letter.
The Elections Commission was expected to meet on Tuesday at 11:00hrs, however, its meeting was cancelled, to allow for the circulation of the written order and decision of the Court of Appeal among its members, and in light of the appeal filed in the CCJ.
15th May 2020
Source: Kaieteur News On Wednesday, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) started to distribute the remainder of their severance payments to the former cane-cutters of Wales Estate, West Bank Demerara. This is according to a statement issued by… Read more
Source: Kaieteur News
On Wednesday, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) started to distribute the remainder of their severance payments to the former cane-cutters of Wales Estate, West Bank Demerara. This is according to a statement issued by the union yesterday.
It was revealed in the statement that the monies were withheld from the workers notwithstanding a decision of the High Court in their favour. In December, 2018, Justice Sandil Kissoon awarded one month’s pay in lieu of notice to the former Wales workers who took up work at Uitvlugt Estate following the closure of Wales Estate in December, 2016.
The union noted that this was apart from their severance entitlements, which are premised on their years of service to the sugar company. The union noted in its statement that, “The state-owned GuySuCo abided partially with the court’s order as it regarded the workers severance entitlements but refused to pay the workers, who were entitled, their one month’s pay. The union on two occasions early last year had written GuySuCo seeking its full compliance with Justice Kissoon’s decision.”
According to GAWU, notwithstanding the clarity of the court’s order, the GuySuCo remained adamant and refused to honour its legal obligations to the workers: “As a result of the Corporation’s apparent intransigence, the union, through its attorneys-at-law Devindra Kissoon and Natasha Vieira of London House Chambers, approached the High Court to have the outstanding section of Justice Kissoon’s decision enforced.”
That move saw Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George-Wiltshire on November 21, last year, approving a garnishment order regarding the outstanding sum owed to the workers.
“Through the order, the corporation’s bankers – Demerara Bank Limited – was compelled to pay over to the union, on the workers behalf, the sum of $7.5M which was owed to the workers.”
However, the statement from the union said that the Corporation subsequently appealed the Chief Justice’s decision and when that matter came up for hearing earlier this year, the Corporation withdrew its appeal after its attorney learnt that the order was enforced and the appeal, therefore, became moot: “The withdrawal of the appeal by GuySuCo paved the way for the union to finally pay over to the workers their outstanding monies.”
According to the union, the workers were pleased to be receiving their outstanding payments and expressed their appreciation to the union for its sustained efforts to bring justice to them.
“They also lamented the seemingly arduous and long journey they had to endure to have their lawful rights respected. Indeed, the struggle of the sugar workers of the closed estates to receive their severance entitlements represents a sad chapter in our history but, at the same time, a proud achievement for workers’ rights. It also demonstrates too the obstacles workers have to surmount to having their rights respected and is yet another reminder of the need for workers to be organized lest their rights be disregarded,” the union noted in its statement.
25th Feb 2020
Source: NewsRoom In a scathing eight-page letter written to Dr. Jan Mangal, by Foreign Secretary Carl Greenidge, through leading commercial lawyer Devindra Kissoon of London House Chambers, Greenidge has accused Dr. Mangal of defamation and has threatened to sue him… Read more
In a scathing eight-page letter written to Dr. Jan Mangal, by Foreign Secretary Carl Greenidge, through leading commercial lawyer Devindra Kissoon of London House Chambers, Greenidge has accused Dr. Mangal of defamation and has threatened to sue him for one million US dollars unless he immediately cease and desist from making further publications and issues a corresponding apology.
Greenidge alleges in his letter that Dr. Mangal defamed him in a series of interviews given to Kaieteur News, letters written to and published by Stabroek News and well as on social media. The letter alleges that Dr. Mangal in those publications falsely “accused Mr. Greenidge, a selfless civil servant, in the strongest terms as being corrupt, clandestine, “being supported by [his] friends in the private sector who get the construction contracts” and shockingly, “collud[ing] with companies to defraud the country.”
Mangal, has been an open critic of the Government, accusing the Government and Greenidge of keeping the Exxon contract secret. Greenidge states “the Articles are based on the false premise that Mr. Greenidge was part of a core trio of senior Government representatives who were collectively responsible for the Government’s decision not to release the Exxon contract, an allegation which is not only untrue, but fundamentally offensive and defamatory.” Greenidge alleges “While being outspoken about non-disclosure of Exxon’s signing bonus so as to give Guyana a legal advantage at the ICJ, and an economic advantage generally, at no time has Mr. Greenidge been responsible for the Government’s decision not to release the Exxon contract, an entirely separate matter. The letter goes on to state “At no time was our client responsible for re-negotiation or revision of the Exxon contract. These statements impugn the reputation, goodwill and basic integrity of our client, and constitute actionable libel per se. This statement is blatantly false and maliciously designed to injure our client’s good name.”
In referring to a letter allegedly written by Dr. Mangal to Stabroek News on January 27, 2020, where Mangal alleges that Guyana lost US$5 billion dollars as a result of the Exxon deal, the letter states “At no time was our client responsible for re-negotiation or revision of the Exxon contract. These statements impugn the reputation, goodwill and basic integrity of our client, and constitute actionable libel per se. This statement is blatantly false and maliciously designed to injure our client’s good name. Moreover, the juxtaposition of a sum of money that Exxon will benefit from and our client’s name in a list of three persons identified as being responsible for Exxon receiving that money, implies that our client is directly responsible for Guyana losing money. This is untrue and in the above mentioned context of the oil industry and the suspicion with which it is viewed in Guyana’s society, the average reader would assume that our client is at the very least inept, and/ or the most corrupt, colluding with or being overpowered by Exxon to the detriment of the Guyanese taxpayers, a position which is simply false.”
In referring to another alleged letter written by Mangal to Stabroek News on January 20, 2020, whereby Mangal allegedly refers to the recently published Global Witness report and comments made by Greenidge in that regard, Mangal apparently asserts that Greenidge was an advocate for keeping the Exxon contract secret and not renegotiating the contract. In response thereto, the cease and desist letter states “These statements impugn the reputation, goodwill and basic integrity of our client, and constitute actionable libel per se. In this article, you have juxtaposed Global Witness’ history of uncovering corruption alongside your false claims of our client being an advocate for the foreign oil companies by advocating for secrecy of the contract information and by being against negotiation. This juxtaposition is in the context of Guyana’s society and the suspicion surrounding the oil industry. These allegations that you have published mean, and were understood to mean by the average reader of the article that our client has been engaging in clandestine and corrupt activities with foreign oil companies and is therefore against transparency, is corrupt, or is at the very least unprofessional and inept. These allegations and charges amount to a very serious libel of my client and have caused him considerable distress and embarrassment. Additionally, these assertions are defamatory and blatantly designed to lead readers to believe our client is guilty of impropriety.”
And in response to Mangal’s alleged letter written to Stabroek News on February 2, 2020, the cease and desist letter states “These statements impugn the reputation, goodwill and basic integrity of our client, and constitute actionable libel per se. Despite not referring to our client by name, in the context of your previous publications outlined in this letter where you accuse our client of colluding with foreign oil companies, the fact that our client is the only Cabinet member who also served in the Forbes Burnham Cabinet and the fact that our client is a member of government with family members who operate in the private sector and have been awarded state contracts, the average reader would understand that the allegations in your letter refer to our client. You make allegations of theft and provide an example of how an oil company could easily “buy off” Guyanese elites. The average reader would conclude that our client is one of these elites who have been stealing from the State and who have been bought off by the oil companies, especially when read together with your later comment where you state “These politicians are being supported by their friends in the private sector who get the construction contracts.” These malicious, intentional and reckless statements are defamatory, causing our client harm, and subjecting him to considerable ridicule.”
The cease and desist letter goes to refer to various Facebook posts allegedly made by Mangal, calling them “crude and false.. designed to maliciously injure” Greenidge, which have “caused injury to our client and his good name”, Greenidge denying he has received “special or illegal favours” from Exxon Mobil or other participants in Guyana’s oil and gas sector.
The cease and desist letter also alludes that the contents of one of Mangal’s Facebook posts may offend the Cyber Crime Act 2018 and can constitute a “threat to intimidate and harm our client”, Kissoon stating “we have also been instructed to pursue all civil and criminal remedies” provided by the Act.
The letter ends with a demand for Mangal to cease and desist from further publication and a threat to pursue all available remedies “including, but not limited to, monetary damages for actual damages caused by your defamatory statements in the amount of at least US$1,000,000.00 (G$215,000,000.00), plus costs and attorneys’ fees which could well exceed US$100,000 (G$215,000), unless you immediately retract your statements and issue an apology as mutually agreed, which is to be published with the same prominence and frequency as the Articles.”
The full text of the letter is to be found here.