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High Court strikes down police detention of lawyer as “unconstitutional”

Last Updated on Saturday, 8 July 2023, 11:24 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes and Attorney-at-Law Tamieka Clarke

The High Court has ruled that the police detention of a lawyer because she advised her client to remain silent was unconstitutional and the seizure of her cellular phone was wrongful, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes said Saturday.

Attorney-at-Law Tamieka Clarke last November sued police for in excess of GY$100,000 in damages but the c0urt has pushed back its decision on the amount to be awarded after  further submissions are heard on September 19, 2023.

Ms Clarke moved to the High Court after she was arrested on October 28, 2022 by agents of the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) for informing her client, who has been accused of computer-related fraud, to remain silent.

Ms Clarke’s detention had sparked a rare picketing demonstration by lawyers.

Mr Hughes said Chief Justice Roxane George on June 12, 2023 ruled that:

1.      Ms Clarke’s fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed and  protected by Article 139 of the Constitution was breached by SOCU on the 28th day of October 2022.

2.      The detention and seizure of Ms Clarke’s cellular phone by officers of SOCU  without Ms Clarke’s permission and without lawful excuse was wrongful.

3.      An attorney at law admitted to practice in Guyana is entitled to advise a client to remain silent when questioned by any law enforcement agency

4.      An Attorney at law entitled to practice at the Bar in Guyana is  entitled to consult with his/her client in private without the contents of
the consultation being recorded in any way including by means of audio visual  recording by any law enforcement agency in the Guyana or elsewhere

5.      Ms Clarke, as a practicing Attorney at law admitted to practice in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is entitled to advise any person who has sought her counsel to exercise the right to remain silent when questioned by a member of any law enforcement agency in Guyana.

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July 2023