Responding to Gail Teixeira’s outpouring on the accusation against Raphael Trotman, and her accusation that Red Thread and others are dealing with this differently than we did with the accusation against Henry Greene.
First, to correct omissions of Ms Teixeira, the first organization to concretely address the issue of sexual offences prosecutions was the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) which also produced an analysis of the progress of these cases through the courts.
Her letter also fails to name Ms Priya Manickchand who, as Minister of Human Services, piloted the public consultations and tabled the Sexual Offences Act (SOA) in parliament. The campaign and lobby against the sloth of the parliament in enacting the Sexual Offences Bill 2010 was pursued by Help and Shelter (H&S, not mentioned in Ms Teixeira’s letter) and Red Thread, with support from Childlink and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD).
We do not recall the Women’s Progressive Organization (WPO) putting its weight behind the call for reformed legislation though they may have done so behind the scenes.
The implementation of this legislation on sexual offences continues to be inadequate, since police investigations are patently unsatisfactory and the capacity of the courts to schedule trials is far below what it needs to be. Generally, the treatment of accusations against public and influential figures continues to be dealt with in a very immature fashion, and certainly, Ms Teixeira seems to be suggesting that this should continue with the trial by media.
The SOA provides for the protection of the identity of the accuser, apparently not a protection that the accuser of Mr. Trotman is interested in claiming. Following the reports in the national media, our view on a few things follows: The texts from a practising lawyer – Ms. Jaya Manickchand – to Mr. Trotman appear to have offered a path to settling the matter so that the accusations would have never seen the light of day in a court of law.
That a member of the legal fraternity should attempt to mediate/negotiate a financial settlement rather than to ensure a full police investigation in the face of a report of child rape strikes us as a complete violation of the spirit of the Sexual Offences Act and speaks to one of the ways we tragically fail to protect children and subvert the law.
According to the newspaper reports, Mr. Trotman’s injunction sought to prevent the accuser publishing the details of his accusation. While we are wary of attempts to restrict free speech in relation to allegations of abuse by persons in positions of power, we would argue that the Chief Justice’s decision in the Henry Greene case went further on the road of undermining justice for survivors of sexual assault than an injunction which, so far as we gather, does nothing to interrupt an ongoing police investigation. As well, media reports suggest that Mr Trotman has consistently called for such an investigation from the beginning.
The difference in the Henry Greene case (Ms. Teixeira’s benchmark to prove our apparent inconsistency) was that Mr. Greene used the court and his office to completely subvert the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in advising about charges against him; then the Chief Justice in his decision rode roughshod over the provisions of the SOA 2010 and the authority of the DPP.
Red Thread’s position on all matters of rape and sexual and other forms of abuse is that however painful it might be when a relative or friend is involved, we must each do our part to ensure that the facts are elicited and the law is applied without fear or favour. The political/media football that is being kicked around in this Trotman matter speaks more to a sick political culture than to a national concern with protecting the vulnerable from abuse.
Ms Teixeira, who remained silent through all the public debate on the Henry Greene case, (though she now conveniently says we were right to condemn the decision of the High Court in that matter) should refrain from attempts to bait organisations like Red Thread who have been, and continue to be, totally committed to the effective implementation of all laws aimed at the protection of the vulnerable to enter the partisan frenzy.
We are also sending this letter to the Guyanese taxpayer funded state newspaper, the Guyana Chronicle, which also carried Gail Teixiera’s letter.
Karen de Souza
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