Henry Greene retires

By letter dated April 19, 2012, addressed to Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, Mr. Henry Green(e), DSM, has offered to retire as the Commissioner of Police of Guyana.

His Excellency Donald Ramotar, President of the Republic of Guyana has accepted his offer with immediate effect.

April 20, 2012

Henry Greene
Henry Greene

Months of pressure had been piled on both Greene and the government to act following the Top Cop’s admission that he had had sexual relations with a woman who had gone to him for assistance with a criminal matter. Greene made the revelation in a court affidavit only after he had been accused by the woman of rape.  The affidavit was drawn up in support of a motion brought by lawyers for Greene to thwart advice by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack for a charge of rape to be brought against him.

This resulted in Chief Justice Ian Chang issuing an interim order blocking any charge against Greene based on the DPP’s advice. There was then a court hearing of the substantive case and Justice Chang later ruled that the DPP’s advice was irrational and made his order absolute, prohibiting any charge against Greene based on the DPP’s advice.

Justice Chang’s decision itself sparked a huge controversy that has still not abated and can conceivably see it being challenged in a higher court of law with the possibility that a charge of rape could still be brought against the commissioner. Women’s and rights groups had severely criticised Justice Chang’s decision over a number of weeks and Minister of Education Priya Manickchand had called on Greene to go and said that Justice Chang’s decision raised concerns about what would happen to future rape cases.

The Guyana Government has also been sternly criticised over its handling of the Greene matter. Critics have said it let weeks elapse without taking disciplinary action against the Top Cop under Article 225 of the Constitution. Critics have also said that since the rape allegation was levelled against Greene, the government allowed the Top Cop to dictate what would happen despite their being mechanisms to discover whether he had conducted himself in a manner befitting the Commissioner of Police. Greene was allowed to proceed on leave after the rape allegation surfaced as opposed to being asked by the government to stand down to permit an inquiry.

His admission of sex with the woman in the November 22, 2011 incident was made since early February, 2012 but up to today the government has made no move towards disciplining him.  His offer to retire – not even resign – would likely put paid to any formal disciplinary proceeding.  Under these circumstances, President Ramotar, the Commander-in-Chief of the Disciplined Forces would be under pressure to explain why he allowed Greene to retire without pursuing his abuse of office by having relations with someone who had gone to him for help.

There had been speculation that Greene had been playing hardball with the government over attempts to move him, hence the delay in him departing. Observers had said that Greene had leverage over the government and was also intent on protecting his pension and other benefits which could  have been if a formal enquiry led to his disciplining. His agreement to go likely signals that he has able to preserve his benefits. The term “retirement” in the Office of the President statement will raise eyebrows as Greene had gone past the  mandatory age of retirement and therefore his continuing occupation of the post was unconstitutional. He was kept on via a contract and observers say his departure would be as a result of a termination of the contract.

Greene’s departure comes a day before a high-level symposium is due to deliberate on the decision of Justice Chang.

The following April 6th letter from Help and Shelter was typical of the sentiments that NGOs had raised about the Greene case.

Dear Editor,

Help & Shelter wholeheartedly agrees with the Guyana Human Rights Association, APNU, Red Thread and all those who regard the acting Chief Justice’s ruling in the Henry Greene matter a travesty and joins in the calls for the DPP to appeal the ruling and for Mr Greene to be immediately removed from office.

We need not repeat what has already been said regarding the flaws in the ruling, including the judge’s disregard for the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act and failure to acquaint himself with how women may react to the trauma of being raped.

Mr Greene is not the first person holding the office of commissioner of police to be accused of rape. The first case did not even reach the stage of the then DPP advising that charges be laid. But the result of both will be the same if last Friday’s ruling is allowed to stand and a man who at the very least has, by his own admission, flagrantly abused his office is allowed to remain in it. (We have today [Thursday] heard that Mr Greene may be intending to resign. We feel strongly that he should not be allowed to do so, but should be dismissed.)

Given all the work that has been done to level the field for victims of rape in the 21 years between these two matters, including the passing of new sex offences legislation (with all party support after extensive public education and consultation) we expected better for our client. We sincerely hope that our expectations will not prove to have been irrational.

Yours faithfully,
Denise Dias
Danuta Radzik
Margaret Kertzious
Carol Innis-Baptiste
Gaitrie Shivsankar
Josephine Whitehead
For Help & Shelter

Throughout the proceedings, Greene’s accuser has maintained her version of events and her lawyer Nigel Hughes earlier this week wrote to the DPP offering to appeal Justice Chang’s decision at the CCJ. The DPP had been advised by Attorney General Anil Nandlall that no appeal lies against the decision rendered by Justice Chang but there are differing views in legal circles about this. The DPP has not said publicly what she intends to do.

In an exclusive interview with Stabroek News, Manickchand, the former Minister of Human Services who had piloted a modern Sexual Offences Act had this to say:

““From his own admission he acted most improperly and in this instance he was discovered so he should leave willingly. I am not sure that he can do very much hereafter to enjoy the confidence of people generally and women in particular and his actions may have been a bad example for his juniors”.

On Justice Chang’s decision she said:

“As far as it relates to the quashing of a decision to prosecute a rape charge, I am particularly worried about the implications of this decision on other prosecutions or intended prosecutions for rape”.

The minister had said that she believes that it is only in the most “exceptional circumstances that the court should exercise its discretion when the decision by the DPP is actually to prosecute as matters that an accused takes exception to can be addressed in or during the trial…”

She pointed out that because rape is hardly ever done at “high noon in the market square” any allegation of rape is almost always going to be the complainant’s word against the accused’s word and that is a matter to be fully tested in court.

Manickchand had said that she prefers a jury of 12 reasonable persons to decide whose word they actually believe rather than a judge of a review court.

The complainant had alleged that she was sexually abused by Greene on the night of November 22 last after she had sought his assistance in solving a police matter. The incident, according to her, was committed at a city hotel.

The woman, in the presence of attorney Hughes had related to reporters that Greene after committing the act warned her against telling anyone or visiting a medical institution or doctor in connection with the matter. According to her, he bought food for her on Regent Street and later transported her to her home.

She said that he had called her for several days from a mobile number, which she provided as 699-0870. She further stated that Greene wrote the number at the back of his card and told her that only government officials had knowledge of that contact number. The woman said that several days after the incident, another senior police officer called her phone and requested that she meet a senior government functionary at the Office of the President to discuss the issue but she declined. She said the police officer told her that she should visit the government functionary alone, “with no family or anybody”.

Since his February affidavit admission, Greene has remained mostly incommunicado. The acting Police Commissioner is Leroy Brumell. President Ramotar will now have to consult with Opposition Leader David Granger on the selection of a new Police Commissioner.






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