Friday, May 23, 2008

OP distances self from Rohee’s comment on the judiciary

OP distances self from Rohee’s comment on the judiciary
Kaieteur News news item. Friday 23 May 2008

“It is the judiciary and not the executive which is
the guardian of the Constitution” - Acting Chief Justice
The Office of the President says that the executive arm of Government does not see that the ruling of Justice Ian Chang to grant bail to a man accused of murder actually constitutes a challenge.
The Office of the President was referring to statements by Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee on Wednesday at a press conference that a challenge has arisen from the judiciary to the administration’s request to ensure that the public’s interest is safeguarded by law.
In a press release issued yesterday, the Office of the President said that it has noted the concerns publicly expressed by the Minister of Home Affairs, about the implications of the most recent decision of the High Court to grant bail to a murder accused.
However, the Office of the President said that notwithstanding the Minister’s concerns that are a reflection of social sentiment, it is unprepared to accept any contention that such a ruling actually constitutes a challenge.
Furthermore, the statement added that Cabinet at its meeting on May 13, 2008 discussed the issue of granting bail.
Attorney-General, Doodnauth Singh was urged to continue the evaluation of the implications of bail being granted for serious and frequently occurring crimes, bearing in mind that doing so could impact on the stability of society by allowing for repeated offences by persons on bail or for their escape from the jurisdiction of the court.
Acting Chief Justice, Ian Chang noted that Minister Rohee’s statements ought to be viewed as public assurance of re-assurance that the judiciary is not the subservient mistress of the executive.
He said that in a democratic state, the executive and the judiciary cannot live cosily together in unhealthy concubinage. Such a relationship, he said, is democratically unhealthy.
“Some tension between the judiciary and the executive is inevitable and must be accepted as not abnormal. It was meant to be so in the political structure of the state in which the doctrine of separation of powers inheres,” Justice Chang said.
He added that it is the judiciary and not the executive that is the guardian of the Constitution.
Minister Rohee had stated that, on the one hand, while the executive authority is insisting on draconian penalties to support other measures in the context of a holistic approach to enhance public safety and security, the judiciary seems unconvinced and is increasingly becoming more favourably disposed to upholding the fundamental rights of accused persons.
“But what about the fundamental rights of those who suffered and are traumatised for life?” Rohee asked.
After eight years of legal hurdles, a Mahaica man facing two counts of murder for the death of a father and son was released on bail in a historic ruling by Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang.
Persaud was charged with Rohan Singh for the April 2000 murder of James Sancharran and six-year-old Afraz Khan.

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