Nov 03, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – The arrest of Attorney-at-Law, Tamieka Clarke in Guyana on Thursday, October 28, 2022, after she advised her Client to remain silent during the course of a criminal investigation, is an attack on a fundamental principle of the rule of law. This view was expressed by the Jamaican Bar Association (JBA), which released a statement condemning the arrest.
The JBA said: “We condemn this action and are very concerned about this assault on the legal profession. It is a clear departure from the Constitution of Guyana which enshrines the right to silence in the course of criminal investigation, consistent with the advice of counsel in the matter.”
According to the Association, this gross encroachment by the State has the result of undermining the rule of law. The JBA said that it shall remain carefully attentive in this cause.
“The Jamaican Bar Association stands with our colleague while we await the official position of the Guyanese Commissioner of Police,” the statement underscored.
Clarke was on Friday detained by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), after she advised her client who is being investigated by the agency, to not provide any answers to the questions being asked, and to remain silent.
The Lawyer was retained by a man who is being investigated by SOCU for computer related fraud.
Following her arrest and subsequent release, Clarke held a Press Conference where she disclosed the events that led up to her being detained at SOCU Headquarters, located on Camp Street, Georgetown.
“On Tuesday afternoon, I accompanied a client to SOCU… [Name provided], then, they told me to come back on Thursday at 1pm because they are not ready for my Client’s statement. I told [name provided] we can come back on Thursday at 1pm no problem, but my Client has been advised and he will not be giving a statement, my Client chooses to remain silent,” the Lawyer explained.
According to Clarke, the SOCU officer then responded and told her, “Do you know what is obstructing of justice, under rule one, your client is compellable… [Name provided] told me that you are going to come back on Thursday at 1pm and if your Client does not give a statement, I will arrest you.”
It was stated that due to the SOCU officer being busy on Thursday afternoon, Clarke and her client were told to report back to SOCU on Friday at 09:00hours.
The Lawyer shared that when she arrived at SOCU, her Client informed her that the ranks had already prepared a statement, which they gave him to read and sign.
Clarke stated that her Client informed her that he has been visiting SOCU’s office on multiple occasions, and as such, he would like to leave. The Lawyer subsequently inquired from three SOCU ranks if her client is under arrest, because he wanted to leave.
This then led to the ranks informing the Officer who is in charge of the investigation that the suspect wanted to leave. Clarke stated that when the Officer came down, he instructed the ranks to arrest her.
According to Clarke, the SOCU ranks collected her cellular phone, her watch and blocked her from leaving the building. She added that she then remained silent and waited until her Lawyer, Nigel Hughes arrived. Following, her Lawyer’s intervention, Clarke was released from custody.
At a Press Conference, Hughes indicated that they will be filing legal proceedings against the State seeking exemplary damages for the unlawful imprisonment of Ms. Clarke.
SOCU is an arm of the Guyana Police Force. The Force in a statement on Friday afternoon indicated that the Police Office of Professional Responsibility has since been instructed to launch an investigation into the allegations. The Guyana Bar Association, the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, the Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton and several Lawyers have condemned the detainment of Attorney-at-Law, Tamieka Clarke by SOCU.
For his part, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, stated that when he was informed of what transpired, he called the Head of SOCU, Faizal Karimbaksh, and instructed him to let the ranks release Clarke.
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