There needs to be a separation between politics and prosecution

Dear Editor,

I just read in SN that, in relation to the future of Mr Roger Khan, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Mr Ramson said he had the authority to advise the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“I have the authority to advise the DPP and the DPP is the sole power, sole power, [that] makes decisions,” and “I don’t know why it is that the media corps has been led to believe that the Attorney General would cross that line.”

The Guyana Constitution guarantees the Director of Public Prosecutions, on paper at least, freedom to act “to the exclusion of any other person or authority.”  Under the powers conferred on the DPP she is “not subject to the direction or control of any other person nor authority.” Mr Ramson attempts to conceal his premeditated violation of the constitution by assuring readers that he would not cross the line. To my mind, if he “advises” the DPP, he has already crossed it.

We are on unsafe ground. The present AG, appointed by the President, is claiming the “authority” to advise the DPP, appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (article 199 (3)).  So we are free to assume that when the DPP removes from the court a private prosecution against a police for murder of a suspect, the DPP has acted after being “advised” but not “controlled” by the political power. To borrow a phrase from Mr Frederick Kissoon, the incest in these transactions does not guarantee prosecution or lack of prosecution without political influence.

Government, based on what the Guyana Chronicle (August 1, 2007) boasted was the overwhelming majority of one race, does not guarantee freedom under the law and must go with as little fooling around and double talk as possible, especially when majority of one race means majority of one political interest.

I know that many senior lawyers will disagree with the view expressed here. This is because they look at the Attorney General under the colonial constitution, when that officer was the kingpin of all legal issues.

The creation of the Office of the DPP was intended to keep that office out of the reach of political influence.

Because of the “incestuous” politics of this poor country, we know that the DPP has always been under the hidden influence of government,

The Attorney General is “the principal legal adviser to the Government of Guyana and is appointed by the President.”

The United Kingdom is the classic example of the traditional Attorney General. Not so long ago the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, produced for public discussion a paper recommending the severance of the office of Attorney General from the work of overseeing prosecutions officers.

If in a country there is lack of separation between politics and prosecution, as now admitted, then it poses danger to two communities: those outside of the ruling party and also those few within it who fail to toe the line or do what is not expected of them.

I thank Mr Ramson for lifting the veil.

Yours faithfully,
Eusi Kwayana

Around the Web