“If it is that the Guyana Government is condoning violence against the press then it is indeed a disturbing revelation”,
said President of the Guyana Bar Association (GBA), Ronald Burch-Smith.
He was at the time commenting on the release of a telephone conversation between Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, and a senior reporter at Kaieteur News.
Burch-Smith did point out that he was not speaking on behalf of the Guyana Bar Association. It did not escape his notice that mere hours after the contents of the conversation were made public, the Guyana Government issued a public statement in defence of the Minister, but did not address the grave contents of the conversation regardless of whether it was private in nature.
According to Burch-Smith, it is high time that the Attorney General or his employers come out and clarify the expletive-laden statements which speak to violence against the Kaieteur News and its staff, an attack on the freedom of the press, misuse of public funds by a public official as well as his loose comments against women, specifically a reporter employed at the Kaieteur News.
According to Burch-Smith, the contents of the recording are disturbing and disappointing and need clarification on the part of Nandlall, and or his employers.
There are a number of legal issues that need to be addressed, according to Burch-Smith, who reminded that the GBA will, following consultations with its hierarchy, issue a public statement on the matter.
He said that based on the contents of the audio recording, it appears that the Attorney General, may know
of persons who are contemplating violence against this publication and this needs to be quickly denounced.
According to Burch-Smith, there is also the admission by Nandlall, that he used public funds for personal use.
He said that to simply say that the money was repaid by him, does not mean that the matter has come to a close.
Burch-Smith, drew reference to a hypothetical situation and said that when a person has been found guilty of breaking into your home and stealing money, simply because that person has agreed to repay the money, does not mean that is the end of the matter.
He did not want to speculate on what the money may have been used for.
Burch-Smith did add that following the revelations of the recording there will be a political dimension that will be thrown in the limelight but at the end of the day, the Government must make known its definitive position on violence against reports, an attack on the freedom of the press as well as the misuse of public funds.
According to Burch-Smith, the incident must be addressed thoroughly since it was not a popularity contest.
The Bar Association President said that at the personal level, the Attorney General is a good person but following the revelations there needs to be some definitive clarification on the part of government.
Publisher of the Kaieteur News Glenn Lall has since lodged a formal complaint with the Guyana Police Force, following the damning revelations in the audio recording.
In that recording the Attorney General can be heard telling the Kaieteur News reporter: “no hear nah you know how it gun stop? somebody gun go into Kaieteur, you see everybody nah gat as I told Adam (Harris) today I said Adam everybody don’t joust everybody, wait hold on…everybody doesn’t have a newspaper to use as a weapon, I told Adam, I said Adam people got weapons right, is not newspaper they gonna use as a weapon they got weapons and when you continue attack people like that and they have no way of responding they gun just walk with their weapon into that same f%@king Saffon Street Office and wha come suh do and innocent, peter gun gah pay fuh f%@king paul in deh one day, me ah tell you innocent, me a tell you honestly man to man that gun happen soon.”
Nandlall was also overheard telling the reporter: “I told, I told Glen I meet with Glen I sit and down and talk with him (inaudible) I use some money from the government and Glen mek an issue of it I pay back deh f&@king money long before he even mek de issue and he know about it because wha it pay fuh…Remember you were going to publish something (inaudible) about my wife and so on…months ago not now months ago (inaudible) but I just, I am not worried about what he gun publish, me I am a f&@king thoroughbred , I I just don’t want him to publish things about me wife that is all I don’t want you understand because she is innocent.”
He goes further; he touts himself as a Kshatryia, pronounced “Chatree”, and unabashedly places himself in a superior social position to former President Bharrat Jagdeo, owner of the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation, Dr Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop and Head of the Privatization Unit, Winston Brassington.
However, the government chose to ignore the obvious threats to the publisher and staff of the newspaper and to come out in support of Nandlall.
In a statement, the government sought to accuse the newspaper of manipulating “a private conversation of a Government Minister, whose conversation was illegally recorded, and distorted, and broadcast.”
“We stand by the Attorney General, as the Government of Guyana goes out of its way to foster peace and goodwill. We believe in the integrity and professionalism of the Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Anil Nandlall, and stand by him,” the government statement said.
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