The law was made for man and not man for the law, someone once wrote. Another famous English writer, Charles Dickens, wrote in Oliver Twist, “The law is a ass”. That complete quote reads, ‘“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, … “the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.”
Now the nation is presented with a novel case of an individual moving to the courts to challenge prosecution. Being no lawyer or legal luminary, we can only assume that this is the first time that such a thing has happened in Guyana, or in any other part of the world. If prosecution is imminent then the defendant must prepare to defend himself.
So here we have the Director of Public Prosecutions recommending that rape charges be laid at the foot of Police Commissioner Henry Greene and not much else. We are not aware that the police moved to institute the charges. Neither are we aware that the Police Commissioner could remain in office while facing a rape charge.
In the case of the latter we would assume that the President who made the appointment would have stepped in. For starters, the Commissioner is a retiree thus his employment is temporary. The fact that the government saw it fit to send him on leave or at least, to accede to his request for leave is strange. One may argue that there may be clauses in any contract but we are not certain that there is such a contract.
Be that as it may, it is clear that the leave was to facilitate an investigation. With the investigation actually attracting the attention of President Donald Ramotar, one would have expected that the findings would have landed on his desk. We do know that the investigation is contained in hundreds of pages.
After even a cursory glance, the President should have stepped in to protect the Guyana Police Force from embarrassment. He should have simply advised the Commissioner that there would be an interdiction. But then again, only employed people would be interdicted. Retirees are simply sent off.
The issue of the challenge to the recommended charges surely opens a new horizon. It would only be fair that anyone to be charged with a crime can move to the courts to stall the charge. One can imagine the confusion that this would create. Given the backlog and the sloth with which the courts move, many charges could be stalled almost indefinitely.
So an armed robber, having got wind of a charge, could approach the high court with a legal challenge. A murder suspect could seek an injunction and the list goes on.
There is another side to this episode. Anyone who holds a high office must be, or appear to be, above reproach—as virtuous as Caesar’s wife. In any country, officials faced with a scandal simply resign. They demit office. This is surely not the case in Guyana. And this is because the political administration allowed this travesty.
Robert Corbin resigned as a Vice President in the People’s National Congress administration to defend himself against rape charges. Kellawan Lall sat silently while the police fudged two investigations that focused on him. People fingered in fraud, for example, Neermal Rekha, remained in office although there was evidence that he signed forged remigration documents.
There were other cases of people remaining in the face of serious allegations. Dr. Leslie Ramsammy was accused of facilitating the importation of sensitive spy equipment for convicted self-proclaimed drug lord, Shaheed Roger Khan.
Although these allegations were made public and reinforced by the people who sold the equipment, Dr. Ramsammy remained in office without a ripple. He would have resigned had he been a senior official in his adopted homeland or in any other country except the most dictatorial.
So it is that the Police Commissioner never considered resigning, if he was allowed to. That would have been the decent thing to do since he would have been saving the reputation of the Guyana Police Force and surely, avoiding the sniggers of his juniors within the force.
We note that the calls for his termination are growing, the most recent coming from the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers. The political opposition has already made such a call and the man in the street has been very vocal. The government should take note.
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