Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang’s decision to quash the Director of Public Prosecutions’ advice to charge Police Commissioner Henry Greene with rape yesterday drew protests.
Social activists Freddie Kissoon, Mark Benschop and Malcolm Harripaul yesterday morning staged a peaceful picket outside the High Court to protest the decision. They said the judgement was unfair and sets the stage for certain brackets of people to escape the law.
The three men stood on the Avenue of the Republic pavement with placards that read: “How fair a judge is Ian Chang?”, “What if she was your daughter?” and “Justice Chang must go now.”
Kissoon told Stabroek News that he and his colleagues felt the decision was “unprecedented in the Caribbean and it paves the way for the rich and powerful to escape prosecution.” He noted that across the world when a situation like Greene’s case occurs, the matter goes before a judge and jury.
Kissoon, who is also an educator and newspaper columnist, said he was not surprised at the decision.
Describing the judgment as a “sad day for Guyanese,” Benschop said that while the judge has a right to make his ruling “we as citizens have a right to criticise his ruling.” He said that what Justice Chang has done is open a gate for “other controversies.”
He stated that over the years the public has lost confidence in judicial system. “Poor people believe that the poor man cannot have justice,” he stressed. Benschop went as far as to call on President Donald Ramotar to immediately remove Greene from his post. “We are going to be protesting every day if he is returned. We are not going to accept that,” he said. He added that Greene should be asked to resign or be fired.
Meanwhile, Harripaul said the judge’s ruling confirmed that two laws exist; one for the rich and powerful and other for the poor and weak.
Several hours later, members and supporters of the Red Thread Organisation turned up outside the Public Buildings to, among other things, protest over the judge’s ruling in the Greene case.
Women’s rights activist Joy Marcus applauded Greene’s accuser for her courage in going public and encouraged her to continue to fight along with other women to ensure that rape and other sexual offences are dealt with in the right manner.
She said the fact that Greene had confessed to having sex with a woman who was already the subject of a police matter, was “in itself a charge.” She stressed that he should not be allowed to return to his post as commissioner. “They would have disciplined a constable or somebody in a lower rank and he should be no exception to the law,” she added.
Last December, the 34-year-old mother of two made the complaint against Greene. The incident reportedly occurred as a city hotel on November 22 last.
With the assistance of police officers from Jamaica, the allegation was investigated and a file was later forwarded to the DPP for advice. After several weeks and a request for an additional statement from the woman, a rape charge for Greene was advised.
However before the charge could be instituted, lawyers for Greene approached the High Court and secured temporary orders to quash the advice to police and prohibit the institution of a rape charge based on it. Greene’s lawyers sought the orders, saying there was insufficient evidence and that the recommended charge was “irrational,” among other things.
In delivering the ruling on Thursday, Justice Chang said that the DPP’s advice was irrational as the circumstantial evidence did not present a realistic prospect of a conviction.
By his ruling, Justice Chang made absolute the orders he had earlier granted to Greene’s lawyers.