GUYANA-AG is critical of the long delay in election-related fraud cases

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GUYANA-AG is critical of the long delay in election-related fraud cases
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Attorney General Anil Nandlall, insisting that he is not criticizing the judicial system in Guyana, has openly complained of the slow pace of the trial of several former government ministers and officials of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) following the controversial 2020 regional and general election.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Attorney General Anil Nandlall, insisting that he is not criticizing the judicial system in Guyana, has openly complained of the slow pace of the trial of several former government ministers and officials of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) following the controversial 2020 regional and general election.

“Many of you continue to ask about the election fraud cases, and as I receive information, I have been disseminating that information to you, and I want to continue,” Nandlall said on Tuesday night’s weekly “Issue in the News” Facebook broadcast.

The Senior Counsel told viewers that early in March, “the learned magistrate, who has conducted most of these cases, upheld an objection raised by defense counsel that certain provisions of the Representation of the People’s Act, which prohibits” GECOM from making public decisions and specific discussions held in the Commission.

Nandlall said that the defense had argued that those provisions in the Act were unconstitutional because they interfered with the defendants’ rights to access information they believed necessary to defend themselves.

The defense also argued that “those provisions collide with the constitutional right to a fair trial.”

He said the magistrate Lerone Daly ruled “that the issues deserved to be addressed by the High Court, and the learned magistrate indicated that she will refer the questions to the High Court, exercising a particular provision of the Guyana Constitution that allows for such questions to be referred to the High Court.”

He said the legislation in question essentially provides “that once a constitutional issue is raised in a court lower than the High Court, then that court has the right to refer that question to the High Court for resolution.

“The magistrate said that she will do so. Nearly a month has elapsed, and as far as I am aware, and I made enquirers, as far as I am aware, the learned magistrate has not yet referred any such question to the High Court as promised, so the delay continues.”

Nandlall, the Minister of Legal Affairs, said he expressed “that this objection could have been taken three years ago. These charges are pending three years now in the magistrate’s court”.

After much public commentary, he said, “A date was fixed for trial, “this objection was belatedly made when a date was fixed for trial.

“The objection could have been made at the beginning three years ago, and …the issue would have been ventilated a long time now, clearing the way for the trial”.

Volda Lawrence, a former government minister; Clairmont Mingo, a former GECOM Returning Officer for District Four; Roxanne Myers, a former GECOM Deputy Chief Election Officer; Carol Smith Joseph, a former Scrutineer; and Keith Lowenfield, a former GECOM Chief Elections Officer, are among those accused of fraud in the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

Other GECOM staff facing charges are Sheffern February, Enrique Livan, Denise Bobb-Cummings, and Michelle Miller. The prosecution alleges that the defendants inflated or facilitated the inflation of results for Region Four, the country’s largest voting district, to give the then-A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition a majority win at the polls.

Nandlall said that the magistrate entertained the defense counsel application “at the 11th hour” and that she is yet “to send the question to the High Court as the magistrate ruled that she would.

“When I say anything, I am being accused of criticizing the judiciary, the magistracy, or interference. I am just giving you the information because you are requesting it and are entitled to an update,” he told his viewers.

“I believe, and I reiterate that this case is unduly delayed, and every opportunity that presents itself for the case to be delayed, that opportunity is acted upon. And that is a fair commentary on the state of affairs.

“These are matters of national importance,” he said, adding that he was also responding to the many written questions, comments, and statements he had been receiving on the cases.

“I am giving you the update, and every time I do, I have to explain to you that the government doesn’t control the judiciary. Many of you criticize me and the government for not bringing those cases up to trial …and I am reporting that we cannot interfere with the judiciary.

“It is an independent arm. We can be critical, but we have to be respectful. We can’t ascribe any ulterior motive, we can’t ascribe any sinister motive to the magistrate or the judge, and it is not my intention to do that here.

“But I also must update you on the progress of these matters, and I know how anxious you are, as you are entitled to be, to ensure that these matters are ventilated,” Nandlall said in his broadcast.

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