Lawyer follows through with lawsuit against SOCU

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Attorney Tamieka Clarke has commenced legal proceedings against the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) seeking damages and several declarations following her wrongful arrest on October 28.

In the proceedings which were filed in the High Court on Friday last, Clarke is petitioning the court to declare that her fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed and protected by Article 139 of the Constitution of Guyana was breached by SOCU when she was arrested and detained for advising her client to remain silent.

Her client was the subject of a criminal investigation by the Guyana Police Force and SOCU.

She is also seeking declarations that the detention and seizure of her cellular phone by SOCU without permission was wrongful; that an attorney to practice in Guyana is entitled to advise a client of his/her right to remain silent when being questioned by members of law enforcement and that an attorney is entitled to consult with his/her client in private without the contents said being recorded in any way.

L-R: Attorneys Tamieka Clarke, Darren Wade, Pauline Chase, Everton Singh- Lammy and Koniyo Sandiford at the protest action on Friday (Photo: News Room/November 4, 2022)

In the court documents seen by the News Room Clarke is seeking damages in excess of $100,000 for wrongful arrest and detention and damages in excess of $100,000 for breach of a lawyers’ fundamental rights and freedoms.

She is further asking the court for exemplary damages for the threat of arrest three days before her being arrested. On October 25, Clarke had told her client to remain silent and was told then that she would be arrested.

On October 27, when she returned to SOCU and was asked by officers if she still intends to advise her client to remain silent and was arrested and detained when she responded yes.

Clarke has been practicing law for about seven years and four of which she prosecuted on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack.

On Friday last, lawyers dressed in their robes protested outside of SOCU’s Camp Street, Georgetown office.

The investigation into the arrest conducted by the Police Office of Professional Responsibility was completed on Friday and forwarded to the DPP for legal advice.

When contacted for an update on Tuesday, DPP’s Public Relations Officer, Liz Rahaman told the News Room to make contact with Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum. She did not confirm if the file had been sent back to the police. Efforts by the News Room to contact Blanhum proved futile.

Clarke’s arrest has been rounded condemned by the Guyana Bar Association, Attorney General Anil Nandlall and other legal bodies from the region and further afield.

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