Reflections on presidential immunity

Dear Editor,

In response to my letter titled ‘Presidential immunity’ (SN, March 21), a blogger en-quired for which acts a hypothetical president may be sued or prosecuted given my interpretation of Article 182. My interpretation  asserts that a president can be sued after leaving office for private acts committed while serving as president. The president can also clearly be sued or prosecuted in his official or public capacity.

The following examples are all hypothetical examples based on my interpretation of Article 182. For example, suits or prosecution in the official or public capacity can be brought against a president with respect to contracts,  projects, appointments, use of funds, public misfeasance, violation of the constitution, abuse of office and decisions that any entity or citizen feels was deliberately disadvantageous to them. These lawsuits may trigger impeachment in Parliament.

For private acts, lawsuits or prosecution can only be launched after a president leaves office, unless he (or she) sues a citizen while in office. Any private act for which any Guyanese can be criminally or civilly sued or prosecuted in Guyana would be caught under Article 182(2).

My interpretation says a president can be sued or prosecuted privately with respect to, among others, family matters, divorce proceedings, domestic violence, torts, contracts, libel, private abuse of office, real estate business and other dealings, actions or omissions. Anyone can bring these suits. Article 182 does not require bringing a successful lawsuit. It merely gives the right to sue or prosecute. The president and the presidency are subject to the constitution.

Articles 182(2) and 182(3) are unequivocal: a president is privately accountable after his term ends.

Obviously, Article 182 should be rewritten or revoked, depending on how one sees it. I am shocked that in 31 years neither the PPP nor the PNC ever tested article 182 in court for the sake of the people of this country.

Yours faithfully,
M Maxwell

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