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Ramon Gaskin challenges constitutionality of State Assets Recovery Act including property seizure

Ramon Gaskin

The constitutionality of Guyana’s State Assets Recovery Act (SARA) is being challenged in the High Court with the aim of having the law scrapped altogether.

In what is believed to be the first ever legal action in Guyana against an entire law, citizen Ramon Gaskin on Friday filed court papers citing 37 grounds to have the SARA Act be deemed unconstitutional.

The case comes up before Chief Justice Roxanne George on August 3, 2017.

In the case ‘Ramon Gaskin v  the Attorney General of Guyana, State Assets Recovery Agency and the Director of the State Assets Recovery Agency,’ Gaskin wants the court to find that the Act gives the Director of SARA “impermissible powers of appointment of police, revenue and customs officials.” “In other words, they can convert anyone of their members into a policeman, a GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority official) or a customs officer which we say violates the constitution.”

Gaskin told Demerara Waves Online News that one of his major concerns is that the SARA Act empowers the agency to apply to the court to seize one’s property without a hearing from the owner in clear violation of the constitutional right to the ownership of property. “In the SARA Act, the SARA Director could go to a court ex parte  without the owner present and put a restraining order on property and we believe that if you go to the court to take a man’s property or put an order on it or seizure or forfeiture, the owner is entitled to be there to get a fair hearing,” Gaskin said.

Legal experts argue that the SARA Act’s provision to allow the court to suppress an ex parte injunction to prevent the individual against whom the action is filed can never know is unconstitutional because the constitution provides for all court hearings to be in public,

Arguing that at least 60 sections and sub-sections of the SARA Act violate the constitution, laws and principles of democracy; Gaskin said there is no need for such a law to go after stolen state assets because there are already other laws through which suspects could be prosecuted. “Although they (government) claim that the SARA Act is civil, there are a lot of criminal penalties such as jail times and heavy fines so it’s a hybrid piece of law; it talks about civil but there are criminal penalties attached,” he said.

In the court papers, Gaskin wants the court to find that the law reverses the evidential burden of proof in criminal proceedings” instead of being innocent until proven guilty.

The more than 100-page document says it gives the National Assembly impermissible powers of appointment to the extent that they can hire the Director and Deputy Director although the House does not enjoy that power. Gaskin further states that the SARA Act violates the separation of powers by directing the court how to act in certain circumstances.

Gaskin is also concerned that the law gives SARA agents “impermissible absolute powers of immunity” from any actions such as conducting searches without warrants. Gaskin says the SARA Act does not allow citizens the constitutional protection of the law “because it doesn’t require a reasonable belief to commence any investigation or take any action.”

Also of concern to Gaskin is what he says is interference in the right of privacy by seeking and gaining access to any official records including bank and property records without obtaining a court warrant.

The SARA Act was passed on April 13, 2017, despite strong opposition by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC).

Gaskin was a PPP member up to the 1960s. Under the presidency of party founder-leader Dr. Cheddi Jagan, he served as Chairman of the now defunct Guyana Electricity Corporation..

At one tine under the PPP administration, he- had also expressed strong disapproval with how the country had been managed.

  • Jinnah Rahman

    GASKIN STUNT – A FAILED TACTIC TO DELAY JUSTICE – Ramon Gaskin – a comical figure in the Guyanese political landscape – is searching for high-profile publicity and at the same time buy time for those culprits, who have been under investigation by SARA and SOCU for crimes of theft and misappropriation of public assets. A crime against the Guyanese nation.

    The former Stalinist establishment – headed by the JAGDEOPATS – are finding ways to stall the further investigation and incarceration of top figures from the past regime.

    Gaskin, whilst he may have certain differences with the leadership style of the PPP, he is essentially one of them- ideologically and politically. He studied in of the Eastern Bloc countries earning a degree in “Soviet-style” economics – which caused the inevitable collapse of the Stalinist empire and a reversal of significant gains by the working people of those countries.

    The central element that caused the destruction of the workers state was the over-sized bureaucracy – which the founders – Leon Trosky and Vladmir Lenin -vehemently warned against. The Soviet State, like the PPP regime, was a highly corrupt machinery – famous for nepotism, squandermania and skulduggery.

    Gaskin and the PPP has not been able to stop the massive corruption created by the JAGDEOPHITES and their business allies. The alleged criminal activities – are still been investigated and the criminals are being brought to trial. – one by one or group by group.

    The SARA laws have been thoroughly scrutinised by the Guyanese lawmen and by an international team of experts from the United Nations, the World Bank, the United Kingdom and other such reputable agencies and organisations. These new legislations are designed to seal all the loopholes in Guyanese “white Collar” crimes and prevent anyone escaping the dragnet of the law.

    GASKIN, one can state quite categorically, has not been involved on any form of corruption or malpractices like some of his former PPP Stalinist graduates, who studied in Eastern Europe. He has lived a humble and simply life – coming out at odd times to express his dismay at issues that he feels dissatisfied.

    The courthouse is the most appropriate place for Gaskin and other aggrieved persons to take their dissatisfaction. It is believed that the Gaskin challenge will get a relatively fair hearing – given the “cow-boy” court system ran by past administrators of justice in Guyana.

    Gaskin – can have his day even in the Caribbean Courts of Justice, if he losses his challenge in Guyana. But he cannot affect the current investigations and the
    incarceration of those, whose misdeeds have been clearly exposed in the 50 Forensic Audits commissioned by the Coalition government. Justice must Prevail.

    • Col123

      A lot of wind paddy there Jinnah. You apparently forgot that we live in a somewhat free society…STILL…Since you find it necessary to castigate others for their rightful place in society,…with your derogatory name calling, I wonder if you would accept the level of your thinking as the Taliban or Isis …as you caste the similar aspersions unto a another citizen.

    • Ah Nanimus

      Jinnah, please don’t act like a 14 year old throwing a tantrum. Let the man have his day in court. That’s his right. He isn’t picking up a gun and trying to overthrow anyone.

  • Col123

    Burch..closets are useful and functional compartments in all households….The association with this chap Gaskin is welcomed…BTW..Ms Winifred Gaskin’s name readily comes to mind for some reason..I may owe her some thanks!..for my primary schooling!

    • Charles Selman

      Col/Burch, Bros, Sorry to use your platform to ask DW why they are staying away from carrying the Bank robbery. The forum needs to allow people to ventilate their views on the enlarging circle of participants, including Police, who were involved.

      • Col123

        Have no idea Charles…someone said that nine out of ten folks on that last report stated that I am a dummy and a racist…maybe, just maybe, DW wanted to save my skin color!… Other outlets are following that story..but they are not generous with anti government sentiments…

  • Packra

    Are you for real A leader who had a parallel drug economy running lots of unsolved murders , corrupt officials under his watch and you are wishing and hoping for that same leader and party to be return to power .

    • Col123

      Packra…He is entitled to an opinion just as you are to post yours!. The political and other propaganda that stimulate your addiction can only work for you…It is kind of obvious the those propaganda is viewed differently by others. ..You should check who are still running drugs…and those gyam fyah freedom fightas with AK47s are no longer useful to the intellectual authors and financiers because they are now in power!…and you need to revisit that issue of corruption again and then return and peddle your nonsense.

    • Danny Persaud

      Go to BJ with your ppl love to talk more than what they full of fluff..

  • Col123

    OK Jinnah…I am for real bro…simply restricted as it relates to my identity, military background and of my critical MOS (military occupational skills)…enough….
    You seem so darn proud to state that Jagan sent you where ever …and you have the gall to attack his comrade Mr Gaskin’s ideology and politics!
    I could give a crap about where you were educated…as your comments are rather frivolous…but only worthy of the comedic value it provides, and more importantly, the venom which it spurts…You are in no better category that feddie who can describe the taste of filth vividly….and which you also do well in your comments!

  • Col123

    Several of you folks on the PNC coat tails continue to assume that I am of Indian heritage…But I have this one question for you and the others….How many INDIANS do you know that can meritoriously attain the status of a Colonel…who refused promotion to General…in the US Army?…the answer is none!..I have serve this world and its downtrodden folks in several countries well. No regrets golfing every day now, and enjoying the good life!

    • Kassem_B

      ‘…who refused promotion to General…in the US Army?..’
      What was your role, where was your base and what period?
      Did your neighbour, friends and employer knew you were in the US Army?

      • Col123

        Lots of intrusive questions there K…most of my thirty one years in the Reserves assigned to 324 th Combat Spt. Hosp. and 369 th CSH …with active duty attachments to other Services in overseas missions… Sure neighbors and friends knew when I am off somewhere which is usually of short duration…

        • Kassem_B

          What did you had to do to be recommended that high up the ladder?
          Any women and children overseas sent to heaven?
          Topple/undermine overseas Governments?

          • Col123

            Interesting you brought that up… No…. I worked through the State Dept. with others in getting civil war torn countries to rebuild…. specifically in the health care delivery systems…