NOTING that he has always strived for a collaborative and cooperative relationship with the Guyana Bar Association (GBA), Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney -General Anil Nandlall, S.C., said the Association has misunderstood remarks he made on Friday pertaining to the October 28 detention of Attorney-at-Law Tamieka Clarke.
The Attorney-General, in a statement issued on Saturday, said that he never ascribed the term “hidden agenda” to a protest held by the Association on Friday outside of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
The protest had to do with Clarke being detained by SOCU on October 28, after she reportedly advised a client not to sign a pre-prepared statement, and to remain silent.
After learning of Clarke’s detention by SOCU, the Attorney-General, as “a constitutional legal adviser to the Police Force,” immediately intervened to have her released. On the day of the incident, Minister Nandlall immediately issued an apology to Clarke, and noted that the incident was unfortunate.
In his statement on Saturday, the minister said he never tried to downplay what happened to Clarke.
“I intervened; I apologised to Ms. Clarke, and expressed the view that the incident was unfortunate and regrettable, and should be amicably resolved. Neither have I trivialised what transpired in the Clarke incident,” Minister Nandlall said, adding: “Indeed, the speed and nature of my intervention, without more, ought to have illustrated the seriousness with which I view the matter.”
He went on to say: “I also made it crystalline that there is no policy at the level of the government or the Guyana Police Force intended or designed to subvert either the Constitution or the Rule of Law. The Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs will continue to champion the cause of the Rule of Law and constitutionalism, and will continue to work with the Guyana Bar Association and, indeed, every other person and entity in this country with the same, or a similar agenda.”
Noting his disappointment that the Association misunderstood remarks he made regarding the incident during an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI) on Friday, Minister Nandlall said:
“The Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs considers the Guyana Bar Association, and by extension the legal fraternity, as one of its most important strategic partners in working to create a modern legal system, and in ensuring that the Rule of Law reigns supreme in Guyana,” the Attorney-General said, adding:
“In this regard, I have always made myself as accessible as possible to both the Guyana Bar Association and the members of the legal profession. Importantly, I have put in place a mechanism that ensures that there are constant consultations with the Guyana Bar Association, the legal profession, and the Ministry of Legal Affairs on policy and on every piece of major legislative change which impacts the legal system. It is my hope that this level of collaboration and cooperation will continue, if not intensify in the future, as our fundamental objectives will hopefully remain aligned.”
Following Clarke’s detention, the Association issued a statement calling for a full investigation to be launched into the her treatment by SOCU, and “disciplinary action, including termination of any officer(s) who were aware of and allowed this type of conduct.”
“The Guyana Police Force, the only lawful authority to deal with the conduct of the police officers, has already indicated that an investigation has been activated. It is the Rule of Law which underscores the functional autonomy of this Force, including the processes by which its members are disciplined,” Minister Nandlall said.