A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) wants Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack to appeal last Friday’s decision by acting Chief Justice Ian Chang which dismissed her advice to charge Commissioner of Police Henry Greene with rape and it renewed its call for the commissioner to be removed from office immediately.
The partnership also plans to take Greene’s matter to the National Assembly and according to parliamentarian Volda Lawrence by yesterday afternoon they would have written to Minister of Human Services & Social Security, Jennifer Webster requesting that the matter be addressed in parliament as it is now a national issue and can no longer be dealt with in a piecemeal fashion.
“We need as leaders and as members of the legislature to sit and look at it in a holistic fashion so that we could give some confidence to our people out there that when these things do occur that it is right to report these matters and that justice will prevail,” Lawrence told members of the media at a press conference held at the Hadfield St office of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday.
Attorney-at-law Debra Backer, who noted that Greene has abused his public office by having sex – whether consensual or not – with a person who sought his help, said that the partnership “strongly disagrees” with Justice Chang’s ruling given the 2006 ruling of the UK Privy Council in a matter involving former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma of Trinidad who had sought to block criminal proceedings against himself. The Privy Council had ruled that the criminal court must be the arbiter as the court had enough safeguards for the accused.
Backer said that the partnership places on record its “dismay and disappointment at the several disparaging statements attributed to the Chief Justice on the character of the alleged victim and his apparent lack of sensitivity and knowledge revealed by his statements.”
Calling last Friday a “black day”, Backer said that Justice Chang must be aware that progressive countries, recognizing that the trial of sexual offences often turns out to be the hardest on victims, have enacted victim friendly legislation empowering courts to hold trials in camera and also forbidding the publication of certain details of the alleged act.
“Rather than adhere to these modern principles the Honourable Chief Justice quite happily read to the packed court room and by extension the entire country all the gory details of the alleged rape,” Backer said, calling it a travesty.
She argued that the fallout from the posture taken by the Chief Justice will undoubtedly further deter already traumatized women and reinforce their belief that the justice system is unconcerned about them.
And on the behaviour of the alleged victim after the alleged act, Backer said Justice Chang showed a “remarkable lack of reading…on how women and children react to the barbaric offence of rape.
“We are not saying that Mr Greene as the accused does not have rights…so I don’t want to go into the details and the merits of the case we are saying that in the twenty-first century someone holding a position such as the Chief Justice cannot be unaware of the modern practices to safeguard the decency and the integrity of the entire matter…”, she said.
Meanwhile, Lawrence said that the APNU maintains that a person who holds public office and is paid out of the coffers of the country has a special responsibility that he/she must uphold.
“The fact that this woman went to the police commissioner for help…and he used his office, according to her, to commit an act of indecency on her and we are very concerned… we have been calling for the removal of Mr Greene because we do not feel that this is the only incident for which Mr Greene…has shown he believes that he is above the law,” Lawrence said.
She said over the years the PNCR has been protesting extra-judicial killings that occurred under Greene’s tenure and has come to the conclusion that he is “not fit for the office and he must go.
“Given now that this particular incident has occurred and Mr Greene has moved to the court to stop this matter we feel that it is an infringement on the rights of women, we feel particularly that this is a gag on women,” Lawrence said.
She added that women who are harassed in the work place or who are abused by persons in high offices may feel that they should not say anything because it will all come to naught.
And Backer pointed out that since Greene has passed the mandatory age of retirement he is no longer the holder of any constitutional position but rather he is a servant of the government and can be sent home immediately. She said the opposition is not aware whether he is there on a month to month basis or on contract but pointed out that the same way the University of Guyana could have paid off columnist Freddie Kissoon in lieu of notice the government can do the same thing.
Another parliamentarian, Lance Carberry, also weighed in on the issue and said that Greene has abused his position and whether or not rape was committed is irrelevant as he himself has admitted that he had sex with the woman who had gone to him for help.
“And therefore his behaviour was inappropriate and it represents an abuse of his position and therefore what he has done is disqualify himself…” Carberry said.
Last Friday Justice Chang rejected the advice by the DPP to charge Greene with rape and found that the advice was irrational as the circumstantial evidence did not present a realistic prospect of a conviction.