I wish to correct the false narrative that is being peddled by AG Al-Rawi about the issues in the case of Akili Charles v The Attorney General in which I appear as junior counsel to Mr. Anand Ramlogan SC. This is without a doubt another desperate attempt by the AG to distract the population from the failure of the Government to adequately address the crime situation which has resulted in an unprecedented outpouring of anger and grief from the citizens of this country.
I wish to firstly remind the AG that as a lawyer, I have a duty to act in the best interests of my client, represent him honestly, competently and zealously.
It is the client who has approached the Court to air his grievance and seek redress, not a “UNC lawyer”. The role of the lawyer is to advocate the client’s position and research the law. The issue is not between the UNC or the lawyer and the State. It is between the citizen and the State, and the Constitution says the citizen has a right to approach the Court for redress.
This client was charged for murder and freed after 9 years by the Chief Magistrate on a no case submission. This means that the Prosecution’s evidence was so weak or discredited to such an extent that the Magistrate found it “so manifestly unreliable that no reasonable court could safely convict upon it”. Freedom after 9 years means nothing to an innocent man who was automatically denied bail on the basis of the crime he was accused of committing. There was no opportunity for the Court to even consider the strength of the evidence against him. He was, on a mere allegation, locked away for 9 years.
Crimes occur in different circumstances. Each case is unique based on the facts. I feel very strongly that an accused person who poses a threat or danger to society should be denied bail. This case does not seek to change that. However, the position of this client is that persons should have the right to make an application for bail so that the court can consider the facts and rule on the issue of bail.
In other words, his argument is that Parliament’s role is not to deny bail but rather, the Judiciary, the trained legal minds seized of the particular facts of the case. That is the critical issue in this case: which arm of the state is responsible under the constitution for dealing with the issue of bail?
Should the father who kills the man that rapes his daughter be treated by the law in the same way as the man who kidnaps, rapes and murders a woman? That grieving father poses no threat to society. Similarly, if a person retaliates against a bully should they be treated in the same way as a cold-blooded murderer for hire. A man who kills a bandit during a home invasion deserves the opportunity to state his case for bail and let the Judicial officer decide. In short, there are endless examples of cases where the broad-brush absolute prohibition against the grant of bail can result in serious injustice.
This is a legitimate constitutional question which every citizen has a right to raise, including Mr Charles who was robbed of his liberty for 9 years whilst supposedly enjoying the “presumption of innocence”.
It would be prudent for the AG, as the Defendant in this matter, to respect the judicial process and desist from making inappropriate comments and attacking lawyers for doing their jobs while the matter is still before the Court. His conduct is unbecoming as the titular head of the Bar and betrays his troubling ignorance of constitutional law, whilst violating the sub judice rule.
It is contemptuous for the AG as a Defendant, who is the conduit between the Executive and the Judiciary to make inflammatory statements about the possible impact of a judgement in favour of a Claimant and a “serious upsurge in violent crimes”. Is the AG subtly signalling to the Court that it should rule in a particular way or else face the wrath of public opinion which he seeks to influence by capitalising on recent brutal killings?
Should Mr Charles succeed in this matter, Al-Rawi’s fulminations and convenient political rhetoric about passing laws to deny bail to solve crime would be exposed for the fallacy that it is, hence his pre-emptive attack on me. His paltry attempt to sell bail restrictions as the magic bullet to fix the crime situation is under threat and he has lashed out without considering the propriety of his actions.
Instead of obsessing about denying bail to persons who are innocent until proven guilty (which is already a feature of the law, passed in 2019 with Opposition support) the AG should join me and others in the Opposition in “obsessing” about non-lethal weapons that could help a person escape an attacker, CCTV cameras that could assist the police in finding kidnap victims quickly and save their lives and the building of the DNA lab which could ensure that 15 years after a brutal murder, the analysis report is ready so that justice could be served. These are matters worth “obsessing” about!
I remain committed as a Senator to advocating for REAL and MEANINGFUL changes that would reduce crime and improve the system of justice in this country and no amount of empty public relations from Faris Al-Rawi will cause me to waiver in that commitment.
Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial.