AG challenges Judge’s decision that GPF cannot blacklist people charged with indictable offences

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Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., has moved to the Court of Appeal to set aside a recent High Court judgement that a person charged with an indictable offence and placed on bail with surety may leave Guyana without the permission of the Court.

The Attorney General (AG) on Thursday filed a Notice of Appeal to set aside the decision of Justice Navindra Singh in the case of Marcelene Washington v Attorney General which was delivered on December 28, 2022, a press release from the AG Chambers noted.

Washington, a Senior Superintendent of Police was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit a felony. She moved to the High Court on several occasions previously for permission to leave the jurisdiction for medical reasons.

Her most recent action sought orders which would no longer require her to apply to the High Court every time she is desirous of leaving the jurisdiction.

Justice Singh in his ruling noted that there is no written law in Guyana which authorises the Guyana Police Force to limit the movement of persons out of Guyana solely because they have been charged with an indictable offence, and placed on bail.

The judge reasoned that the only condition attached to the granting of bail is the future appearance of the person in Court unless that person is restricted from leaving the jurisdiction as a condition of their bail.

In the Notice of Motion, the Attorney General posits that the decision of the trial judge violates, and is in conflict with express provisions of the Constitution, established principles of law, and past decisions of the court.

He contends that the Criminal Law (Procedure) Act restricts persons charged with an indictable offence and who have been granted bail with surety from leaving the jurisdiction without the permission of the Court.

This restriction is contemplated, and permitted by Article 148 (3) of the Constitution, the press release noted.

Further, he contends that the learned judge was bound by the decision in Clarence Hughes v Attorney General 1979, which exemplifies the arguments of the Attorney General.

Police Commissioner (ag) Clifton Hicken in an Affidavit to support the notice noted that the decision of Justice Singh “has deep and far-reaching ramifications” for the rule of law and the administration of criminal justice in Guyana.

“In my position as Commissioner of Police (Ag.), I have knowledge that hundreds of persons charged with indictable offences and granted bail with sureties can now flee the jurisdiction with impunity, and certainly, without the supervisory role of the High Court,” Hicken is quoted as saying.

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