Last Updated on Saturday, 5 November 2022, 18:56 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) on Saturday expressed disappointment at Attorney General Anil Nandlall’s claim that an “aggressive agenda” was being pursued although he swiftly instructed police to release a lawyer who had been arrested because she had advised her client to remain silent.
“The arrest of an Attorney-at-Law in Guyana in the execution of her professional duties is unprecedented and a frightening development which has received widespread concern and condemnation locally, regionally and internationally. In the circumstances, we wholly reject any allegation or insinuation that the Bar Association has any agenda other than the upholding of the Rule of Law as our constitution mandates us to do,” the Bar Association said.
The GBA said the comments emanating from the Attorney General demonstrate a lack of awareness of the endemic and systemic abuse of power, disrespect and disregard for the fundamentals of the Rule of Law displayed by members of the Guyana Police Force in their interaction with members of the public and legal profession.
Mr Nandlall made the remarks on November 4, 2022 on the Department of Public Information as lawyers, dressed in their robes, were protesting outside the Guyana Police Force’s Special Organised Crime Unit against the arrest and detention of Attorney-at-Law Tamieka Clarke on October 28, 2022 when she was there with a client. He lamented the GY$50 million demand for the 10 to 15 minute detention of Ms Clarke.
While Ms Clarke has filed a more than GY$300,000 lawsuit against the State through the Attorney General for violation of her constitutional rights because of the police arrest, he referred to a pre-action letter that demands GY$50 million to settle the matter. Mr Nandlall said he though that matter was ‘water under the bridge but obviously there is an aggressive agenda being pursued and I am not sure to what end.”
The GBA said it appeared that as Attorney-General, many of those police practices and actions must have been hidden from him, as opposed to the Bar Association having a “hidden agenda”. “As more and more of these practices not only towards members of the Bar, but to the general public come to light, we trust that the veil which separates the actions of the organs of the state from the advisors of the state is pierced and eventually lifted,” the association added.
When contacted Saturday evening, the Attorney General questioned GBA’s capacity to reflect accurately his statement as he never used the words “hidden agenda” but stated that there seemed to be an “aggressive agenda.”
The GBA, in turn, reasoned that the Attorney General in improperly ascribing a “hidden agenda” in the protest of the Bar Association, seeks to conflate the separate issues of the private action being pursued by Ms. Clarke and the wider issue of the Bar Association of the break-down in the Rule of Law through the actions and attitude of the Guyana Police Force towards Attorneys-at-Law and the public at large.
According to the association, the issue would not end “unless and until the appropriate remedial action is taken.”
The GBA has been joined in the regional and international outcry against Ms Clarke’s arrest by the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, Jamaica Bar Association, Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations (OCCBA) and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA)