Apr 20, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – An application has been filed in the High Court for the release of Statements of Poll (SoPs) and Statements of Return (SoRs) in relation to the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Elections.
This application relates to the private criminal charges brought against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officers over their alleged misconduct during the elections.
At present, the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield; the Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), Roxane Meyers and the Returning Officer (RO) for District Four, Clairmont Mingo, are facing charges of Misconduct in Public Office in the Magistrates’ Court.
According to the document drafted by lawyers: Darshan Ramdhani, QC, Glen Hanoman and Ganesh Hira, who are among the list of prosecutors on the case, a request is now being made for an order from the High Court directing the Registrar to make photocopies of the SoPs lodged in her possession by GECOM’s CEO.
The document states further that the applicants in the matter, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, S.C. and the Commissioner of Police (Ag), Nigel Hoppie, are requesting an order directing the Registrar to certify the photocopies of the SoPs made by her as being true copies of the original and taking other actions and steps as may be lawful, necessary and appropriate to render the photocopies admissible in a court of law.
The applicants are seeking an order directing the Registrar to make photocopies of the SoRs lodged in her possession by the CEO of GECOM for the General and Regional Elections held on March2, 2020; and an order directing the Registrar to certify the photocopies of the SoRs, taking other actions and steps as may be lawful, necessary and appropriate to render the photocopies admissible in a court of law.
Additionally, the applicants have asked the Court to grant any order that may be necessary to facilitate the obtaining of the certified photocopies of the SoPs and SoRs of the March 2, 2020 Regional and General elections in a lawful manner.
As part of the grounds of the application, the document stipulates that both the Commissioner of Police and DPP, by virtue of the Constitution, are legally empowered to apply for the SoPs and SoRs given their supervisory role in the holding of election and the conduct of all criminal prosecution in Guyana. The court document states too, that the tabulations of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional elections did not go smoothly.
The grounds outlined further that as a result of the issues over the tabulation, private criminal charges were instituted against officers of GECOM, the constitutional agency charged with the conduct of the elections.
Consequently, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) subsequently conducted an investigation and thereafter the DPP received statement and documentary evidence from members of the GPF and advised charges based thereon, against several members of GECOM including the CEO, DCEO and Returning Officer for District Four. According to the application, the information forms relevant evidence for the prosecution to prove the Commission of the offences, which are charged.
As such, the DPP had instructed the (GPF) to obtain the SoPs and SoRs as part of the investigation and the gathering of evidence for presentation in Court as those are necessary for the fair hearing of the charges.
Further, it states that pursuant to the Representation of the People Act, the SoPs are required to be delivered to the CEO at GECOM. These documents are public records and there should be no restriction to the police obtaining copies of the said records.
“By Common law and statute namely section 50 of the Criminal Law procedure Act Cap 10:01, the Commissioner of Police and any member of the Police Force has the lawful right to collect and recover all documents and property which are relevant to the investigation and prosecution of any criminal offence,” the application outlined.
It adds that: “Section 509(1) of the Criminal Law Procedure Act Cap10:01 provides the statutory authority for an application to be made to a Magistrate for a warrant to seize and recover anything upon it being shown on oath that there are reasonable grounds to believe that it will afford evidence to show the commission of an offence.” The application noted, however, that due to the election case before the High Court, the SoPs and SoRs are in the possession of the Registrar of the High Court.
The information was handed over based on an order of the Chief Justice (Ag), Roxane George- Wiltshire, in an elections petition case currently engaging the attention of the Supreme Court.
However, given that a Magistrate’s authority does not supersede the Supreme Court, the parties sought the necessary channel of applying to the High Court for a release of the information contained in the SoPs and SoRs related to Guyana’s 2020 elections.
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