Charges against GECOM Chair malicious; amount to intimidation, harassment– Datadin
Days after Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer appeared in Court to answer to private criminal charges, private criminal charges have now been brought against the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), former Judge Claudette Singh.
Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin has already disregarded the charges as malicious prosecution, intimidation and harassment and believes it will go nowhere.
Three citizens filed the charges in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court Wednesday including an election agent of the APNU+AFC coalition Lorraine Joseph whose listed address is Melanie Damishana, East Coast Demerara.
Joseph worked on Election Day as a Polling Agent for the Coalition and signed off on a Statement of Poll at a South Rupununi, Region #9 polling station.
The other two persons are Keith Ondaan of Central Amelia’s Ward, Linden and Onita Walcott of Victoria, East Coast Demerara.
The three private charges against Singh amount to misconduct in public office contrary to the common law and states that she performed her duties as Chairman of GECOM unlawfully on more than one occasion following the March 02, 2020 election.
The specifics of the allegations are that between March 14th and June 23rd 2020, Singh acted recklessly and unlawfully when she refused to accept the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield’s election report on the March 02, 2020, elections.
During an interview with the News Room Wednesday, Datadin explained that Under Section 140 of the Representation of the Peoples Act, none of the decisions and deliberations of GECOM is admissible in a court of law except in an election petition.
“So, we have a fundamental problem there. How will the court receive any evidence? There is no way that any of the evidence that relates to the Chairwoman can be received,” Datadin said.
He also pointed out that the Chair was not acting on her own but carried out her duties as head of the seven-member Commission.
“This is a malicious prosecution, which is in itself a criminal offence, which is a civil wrong… this is harassment, this is an abuse of process, its utterly ridiculous,” Datadin added.
Datadin reminded that the GECOM Chair had refused to accept several elections reports put forward by the CEO which sought to invalidate votes to hand the incumbent APNU+AFC a victory while the national vote recount showed the coalition lost the elections by over 24,000 votes.
Lowenfield had sought to doctor his report with concocted figures to hand a victory to the defeated coalition prompting the Chair’s refusal and insistence on using the certified recount figures.
The allegation is also that she acted contrary to law when she disregarded the advice of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel that the recount of votes of the March 02 election was unlawful, unconstitutional and instead knowingly caused the gazetting of the recount order in the official gazette.
But the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has already pronounced clearly that the recount was legal and should be used to declare the winner of the March election. The recount has also received the support of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which scrutinized the process and the international community by extension.
Interestingly, the GECOM Chair is also being accused of breaching the recount order.
No one knows who the lawyers are that will be representing the litigants but according to Datadin it will likely be the “same circle of attorneys representing other litigants.”
Datadin said the private charges has no bearing on the conclusion of the election process with a declaration by the Chairman of GECOM.
“In my mind, it’s intended to do two things … intimidate Justice Singh and create more confusion so that delay will be the end result… that is the only value in that.”
The chair, a former judge herself, has always maintained that she acted within the ambit of the law.
The News Room has been unable to confirm whether the charges were served on the GECOM Chair and whether a date has been set for the hearing of the case.