Two media houses reported the following occurrences during and after the appearance of a citizen in court. An attorney was charged with death by dangerous driving and made a court appearance on Thursday morning. This was at the same time Camp Street prisoners were committing arson with the explanation that they were being mistreated.
The police stopped reporters from entering the court room. When asked, the police said that was the order given to them. It was not reported who issued the edict. I am assuming it wasn’t the police. There were no crowds around the courthouse I was told and the courtroom was not packed. Why then would the police issue a no-entry declaration? In all my experience at the lower and higher courts, the police do not stop reporters. Such an order normally comes from the judge or the magistrate.
After bail was granted, the accused was allowed to remain in the court house until bail was posted. This was another edict, but who gave this one? Was it the police or the magistrate who happened to be Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, in this particular court  case that made the decision to allow the citizen to remain upstairs while bail was being processed?
It must be remembered at all times that the lawyer did not appear in court as an attorney but as a citizen charged with an offence. If it is permitted by convention or practice that certain people can stay in the courthouse while the money for bail is paid, then I do not agree with it and for one fundamental reason – it violates the sacred value of all being equal in the eyes of the law.
Special circumstances dictate that persons may not proceed to the police outpost awaiting payment of bail. Those special circumstances are twofold – crowd control and security protection for the accused and police. In the case of Kwame MC Coy, Jason Abdulla and Shawn Hinds in my assault case, the crowds were thick and angry but the men went into the police outpost at the bottom of the court house.
There was no such reality in this particular charge of death by dangerous driving. Why then was the press prevented from entry into the courtroom? Why did the accused not accompany the police to the bail house?
What is the relevance of this situation to the Camp Street prison violence? A caveat is in order before we proceed. The heinous offences alleged to have been committed by the remand accused for which they were charged and who died in the fire should not cloud one’s judgement as to the causation of the conflagration. Some of the prisoners’ cries involved mistreatment, delayed justice among others.
A Vice-President and the Minister of the Presidency have met with a delegation from among the prisoners and some immediate agreements were inked, for example, quality of food, entitlement to phone calls (that is assuming that prison phones work)
From the Mash Day prison break in 2002 to the March 2016 fiery death of 17 riotous remand prisoners, at the heart of the complaint is a justice system that treats accused differently from others. The two factors – ban on reporters and the courtroom wait for bail –  in the death by dangerous driving charge involving an attorney,  sends another signal to a shambolic, dystopian country that there are citizens in this land that the law will treat favourably.
Society’s young generation should not be allowed to know or see that kind of desecrated values. It will have sad consequences. I can tell you that as a human rights activist, the complaints I get are heart-breaking about the miscarriage of justice and police violations. Young people from depressed areas of Guyana feel that the rule of law is bent, nasty and vicious.
Thursday morning, an attorney, Lloyd Mark Conway, spoke to me about this very topic with a view to writing about deprivations of his client.
What is mentally devastating is that the banning of the reporters and the favoured treatment of this attorney will end with the publication of this column. The Chancellor is not going to ask Magistrate Mc Lennan for an explanation if it was she that ordered the ban. If it was the police, the Commissioner will not even respond much less demand an explanation from his court ranks.
The Chancellor will not ask the magistrate why the accused wasn’t made to enter the bail house. We have banned second hand tyres from Guyana. Maybe we should ban second hand mentalities too.