A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. What this means in practical terms is that the burden of proving that someone is guilty rests with the complainant.
It is not for the accused to establish his or her innocence. It is for the persons who have filed the complaint or the prosecutor, acting on that person’s or the State’s behalf, to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person is guilty.
A person who is charged is not guilty until so proven. A charge can be wrong in law and lacking in evidence. A person who is freed is considered legally to be absolved of a crime. Whether or not the person committed the crime is a matter between that person and his or her Maker. But for all intents and purposes, legally that person has been deemed innocent.
There is a pattern emerging within the present administration. The pro-democracy foreign embassies which engineered the demise of the PPP/C government, should take note of this development. It has serious implications for the rights of citizens, democratic governance and the rule of law.
There is a pattern emerging which leads to a possible hypothesis that if the government wants to remove a public official, all it has to do is to get one of the ‘gringo’ law enforcement agencies to announce an investigation against the person or file charges and this becomes the basis of the person having to step down.
This is a situation that the foreign embassies should be monitoring because their biggest enemy is not the PPP/C administration but the threat to democratic rule and the rule of law.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has the power under the law to review all criminal charges to ensure that they are right in law and that a prima facie case existed before charges were laid. The DPP should send for the files of all of those persons who have been charged by the State without those charges passing though the DPP’s office. The charges and the evidence on which they are based should be reviewed and a decision taken on what is to be done.
One recalls that the PPP/C used criminal charges as a political weapon against its opponents. The APNU+AFC is being accused of the same thing. There is also the possibility that the threat of investigation is being used to remove from office persons with whom the government does not find favor.
If this hypothesis holds up, then the government is on dangerous ground and can be accused of pursing political vendetta. It is known that there are persons within the ruling party who are keen to settle old political scores. We know where that approach took us in the past.
The ABC countries have been strangely silent about a number of developments in the country. They have been silent on the establishment of new enforcement agencies. They have been silent about some of the controversial deals which were inked by the present regime. They have been silent about what is taking place in the National Assembly.
The ABC countries do not wish to be seen as overreacting. They probably do not feel that the situation has reached the stage, as yet, when they need to speak out. They are wrong.
The Guyanese people understand how dictatorship and authoritarian rules develops. It starts with the simple excesses which people are complaining about. The excesses lead to problems and those problems develop into monstrosities.
The government has failed to rein in some of its members over what has taken place. The danger is that it creates the impression that wrongdoing will be condoned. It also allows for persons to be discriminated against. This is how authoritarian rule develops and the signs are that Guyana could return to that form of political rule.
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