In a very learned judgement, Justice Gino Persaud denied Minister Ferguson an injunction that if granted would have prevented Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, from further commenting on the issue of her purchase of land and housing construction.
The Minister sued Jagdeo for libel and applied for the restraining order.
I would ask all Guyanese in and out the lands to read Justice Persaud’s reasons. When the application was first heard, the judge made it known that the courts are not inclined to prevent free speech on matters involving national issues. He said in circumstances of libel, injunctions are rarely given.
He said the pattern in jurisprudence is not to grant the order because it may hinder the right to free speech. The hearing concluded on Tuesday and in part of his delivery, the judge observed, “The importance of leaving free speech unfettered is rarely more evident than in cases involving political debate… “
But in 2011, President Jagdeo applied for an injunction restraining me from commenting on matters of national interests when he sued me and this newspaper.
Chief Justice (ag) Chang granted the order. We applied for it to be lifted months after and Justice Ramlall upheld the restraining edict of Chang.
The libel suit lasted nine years during which time the injunction stood. As 2019 drew to a close, the suit was withdrawn by Jagdeo. I am contractually bound not to discuss the withdrawal, publicly.
I could never repay Nigel Hughes. He never charged me a cent and if he had to, it would have run into millions of dollars. Guyana lost a very good politician when Nigel withdrew from politics.
I would also like to thank Khemraj Ramjattan for his free defense of me. He left the case in 2011 to occupy himself with AFC politics and Nigel took it way into 2019. I am indeed grateful to Khemraj. We were friends for a long time but power does mysterious things to people. I would have liked to campaign for the APNU+AFC in 2020 as I vigorously did in 2015. But my country comes first. It is the place where I have my family.
If Guyana is destroyed, it has implications for people I love. Against the power insanity of the AFC, I had to part company with Khemraj. I could never forget what the PPP did to me and my family and I could never give that party my vote.
But I cannot support APNU+AFC on March 2. Country comes first. I want to see a minority government so I will vote for a third party. Right now, I have chosen Lenox Shuman.
How ironic that in the midst of an election, Jagdeo’s double standards are on display for the world to see. He asked a judge to restrict my right to free speech as a university lecturer and newspaper columnist.
Two judges granted his request. But now, he has requested a judge to uphold his right to free speech. He got his wish.
It is timely that this case should come up days before an election because it puts Jagdeo and me in the spotlight. It also highlights the role of Ian Chang as Chief Justice.
In Guyana (I don’t think it obtains in the rest of the world), there is the taboo of bad-talking the dead. In other countries when controversial people die, academics assess their legacies. In Guyana, you can only write positively of the dead. So I stayed away from publishing my analysis of Ian Chang.
In my opinion, Chang did some damage to the image of the judiciary. I saw him as plainly biased in favour of the president. Apart from granting the injunction against me, he created history worldwide when he assigned a judge to the case that began eleven months after the writ was filed.
I honestly believe that never happened before in any other country.
Chang didn’t really care for my presence in Guyana. We had few exchanges and I read his intention towards me when he once said to me; “You write too much.” Chang declined to hear a writ of habeas corpus from Nigel Hughes on behalf of Mark Benschop and me.
We were languishing in jail for three days on a traffic charge that did not carry a jail penalty. I hope the very young generation in Guyana read these notes because they form a valuable part of contemporary Guyanese political history.
Do you know only Charles Ramson from the PPP since Jagdeo became president has apologised to me for disrupting my lecture on the Jagdeo presidency at the National Library in 2010. How about you, Bharrat?
Apr 06, 2020By Zaheer Mohamed Port Kaituma Football Foundation (PKFF) is one of the leading sports organisations in Region One. The body was formed in 2009 with the aim of developing sports in the area. Its...
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