Election fraud cases must move with greater alacrity, pace – AG

The series of election fraud cases filed by the Government of Guyana must move with greater alacrity and must be given the seriousness and importance they deserve by the Magistrates that are handling these matters.

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall expressed this view on Tuesday during his programme called, “Issues in the News” broadcast on social media.

Nandlall said from his conversations with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamilar Ali-Hack, that the election cases are not been treated as they should within the legal field by the Magistrates.

I have had conversations with the DPP and the report is that magistrates within the system are not proceeding with the matter with the seriousness and the expediency with which they should, having regard to the importance of the matter and having regard to the length of time that the matters are pending before them. Magistrates have made applications to recuse themselves, and some are simply not determining whether the cases should be tried summarily meaning in the Magistrates Court or should be taken indictment before a judge or a jury”, Nandlall informed the public.

The Minister noted that that is a decision that only Magistrates must make because of its procedural nature, and impact on the cases’ forward movement.

Guyana Elections Commission

Magistrates have not been making that decision”, he said before he informed that one Magistrate has made a decision that the matter is taken indictable and that particular matter is being appealed, but that is only one charge out of 32.

The Legal Affairs Minister said that he made representation to the DPP about the pace of these cases within the magistrate’s court. 

“…I have requested of the DPP, most respectfully, to ensure that the appropriate representations are made to ensure that greater alacrity is brought to these matters and that they are treated with the type of seriousness that they deserve”, Nandlall said.

He ensured that he said, “I hope that what I say here is not twisted or misinterpreted to mean that I am being unduly critical to any magistrate, or that I am ascribing improper motive to any magistrate, or that I am bringing the administration of justice into disrepute, or that I am trying to, in any form or fashion, influence the outcome of any case, because I am doing no such thing, and I want to make that abundantly clear”.

Minister Nandlall added that he was expressing his views as a Minister of the Government carefully.  He maintained that these are of utmost importance to the state of Guyana as they arose out of a constitutional process of the highest importance, which is the national and regional elections.

He noted that these cases are grave and the evidence upon which these charges are grounded are of the nature and type.

“…that public officers who were being paid to work in the system, the electoral system of the country to protect, preserve and defend that system. Who are being paid by taxpayers’ dollars to ensure the democratic credentials of our country are preserved and protected, became rogue, and attempted to compromise and pervert that very system that they are supposed to manage and ensure works properly to deliver fair, credible and transparent results”, the AG reasoned.

The Attorney General said that when actions like these are committed or are allegedly committed, it is the very state of Guyana that is under attack and the state has the responsibility to ensure that these matters are investigated properly.

“… And if charges are to flow from those investigations, those charges are brought to the relevant courts and are heard and determined within a reasonable time and in accordance with the evidence and the applicable law, that is the responsibility of the State of Guyana to the people of Guyana. The victim here is the people of Guyana and the state of Guyana. Those are the victims in this legal matrix”, the AG stated.

It is now, two years since the PPP/C Government filed 32 criminal charges against various persons. They are still pending in the Magistrates Court. Some charges were added subsequently and they were amendments made subsequently.

Statements were served already by the prosecution to the defence. All the statements of polls that the Guyana Election Commission refused to give and that political parties who claimed that they won the election refused to produce, prosecutors went to the Chief Justice and got an order directing GECOM to release those statements of polls into the possession of the court. They then got permission from the court to give it to the defendant’s lawyers. That was done. One truckload of statements of polls was already delivered.

These cases are being prosecuted by the DPP, an independent constitutional office holder, who, to her credit, and in recognition of the importance of these charges, hired private prosecutors to prosecute them.