The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) on Saturday roasted the Attorney General over his “hidden agenda” comment after they held a protest in front of the Special Organised Crime Unit’s (SOCU’s) Office, decrying the slow pace of probe into their colleague Tamieka Clarke’s arrest.
But Attorney General Anil Nandlall, in reply, said he was disappointed that the Association misunderstood him.
“The comments emanating from the Hon. Attorney General demonstrate a lack of awareness of the endemic and systemic abuse of power, disrespect, and disregard for the fundamentals of the Rule of Law displayed by members of the Guyana Police Force in their interaction with members of the public and legal profession,” the GBA said.
On Friday, the President of the Bar Association, Pauline Chase, and several lawyers picketed the SOCU’s Camp Street Office and decried the slow pace of investigation into Clarke’s arrest.
Clarke was arrested and detained by SOCU and subsequently released on October 28 after she advised her client to remain silent, which is a part of his rights.
Following her arrest, the AG offered an apology for what he described as an “unfortunate incident.”
An investigation was ordered, and one week after, the Head of the Force’s Communications Unit, Mark Ramotar, revealed that OPR had completed the investigation.
His announcement of the investigation came mere two hours after the GBA planned a protest outside SOCU’s office. He noted that the file was with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for advice.
Shortly after the protest, AG Nandlall, in a video statement, said he thought “this was water under the bridge.”
He said he had received a pre-action letter from a lawyer purporting to represent Clarke in which $50 million was being demanded by her in lieu of a lawsuit for the violation of her rights, among other things.
He, however, contended that the sum is “exorbitant” and “excessive,” given that Clarke was only arrested and detained for about 10-15 minutes and questioned the motive behind the protest.
“The Hon. Attorney General, in improperly ascribing a ‘hidden agenda’ in the protest of the Bar Association, seeks to conflate the separate issues of the private action being pursued by Ms. Clarke and the wider issue of the Bar Association of the break-down in the Rule of Law through the actions and attitude of the Guyana Police Force towards Attorneys-at-Law and the public at large.”
To this end, the GBA rejected the AG’s claim, noting that its only agenda is upholding the rule of law.
“It is not ‘water under the bridge’ unless and until the appropriate remedial action is taken,” the Association concluded.
The AG, on the other hand, said, “I am disappointed that the Association misunderstood my recent remarks in respect of the Tamieka Clarke fiasco. I thought that my position on this matter was clear.”
Among other things, the AG said he would continue to champion the cause of the rule of law and Constitutionalism.
The lawyer’s arrest sparked condemnation by various associations, including the GBA, the Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations (OCCBA), and even the main Opposition – the APNU+AFC Coalition.
She has since filed an over $300,000 lawsuit against the State over her unlawful arrest, detention, and imprisonment.