Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Revisiting of the Issue of Partiality or Impartiality of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry

"You know what? And that is why we have procedural fairness. That is why we have motion of reasonable apprehension of bias and all kinds of things because in these proceedings judges, tribunal chairs are not always fair to witnesses and Counsel." Selwyn A. Pieters

By Selwyn A. Pieters, B.A., LL.B., L.E.C.
Lawyer & Notary Public (Ontario, Canada)
Attorney-at-Law (Republic of Guyana, Island of Trinidad)
Posted on October 22, 2014

As a lawyer with significant experience in human rights, civil rights and non-adversarial matters, I was retained to represent its interest of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry. I am currently co-counsel representing the Guyana Trades Union Congress in the Walter Anthony Rodney Commission of Inquiry in Georgetown, Guyana.

Whether as Judicial Officers or functioning in a quasi-judicial capacity, fairness to witnesses and lawyers; impartiality; courtesy and having a judicial temperment defines a Judge, Adjudicator, Commissioner or Chair of a Tribunal. Absent these characteristics a hearing can quickly degenerate into a test of wills that is unproductive to the task at hand: Fact finding. The Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry comes to mind.

From the inception of the Commission there has been criticisms. GTUC General Secretary Lincoln Lewis summarized the crux of the Commission's problem as follows:

2. The GTUC comes to this Rodney Commission of Inquiry (COl) fully conscious and concerned that the nation needs to heal in order to unite against the scourge of crime, violence, corruption, and inefficient governance, social, moral, and political decay. This can only come about in an atmosphere of truth and reconciliation. The Terms of  Reference, the conduct of this inquiry and the cloud of suspicion cast by the perceived lack of impartiality of those integrally associated with constituting this committee, as well as those serving on this committee raise many questions and doubts.3. There is serious doubt whether there will be better understanding premisedon truth, emanating from those who have slaughtered/distorted it for years, orwhether a credible, fair and just outcome of this distorted era in this country'shistory shall emerge.4. There is no doubt, however, that this Commission will only provide politicalfodder for those who have historically benefitted from divisiveness. Hence, no national reconciliation, nor real truths can be expected from those whose primary interest it is to sow the seeds of deception and myths that provide a cover for their past, gives them relevance today, and sustains their hold on the hearts and minds of the more vulnerable-to wit the gullible in our society.....
10.The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is concerned that in any court of law the impartiality of the deciders of justice must be guaranteed and the process of selecting whether judges, magistrates, prosecutors, even jurymen and women must be transparent and credible. They are all subject to recall or must recuse themselves, so as not to compromise the integrity of the process where there is sufficient reason for doubt to be cast on their decision or outcome.11. This Rodney COl lacks these fundamental principles and is but another one of the many societal manipulations of the current regime to continue to benefit from Dr. Rodney's death and use it as a wedge to carve further divisions in a society whose social, political and moral fabric has been severely undermined by political lies, half-truths and blurred truths.12.Cognisant that our presentation here today may be seen as giving validity to this gravely deficient COl, the GTUC wishes to make it very clear that our participation is only to ensure our story is told by us and recorded for those in the future with more credibility, less emotional involvement and political bias, and in benefit of those who are only interested in the truth. Oftentimes the present is only made clear and understood in the future.

On October 22, 2014 at the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Attorney for the People’s National Congress (PNC), Mr. Basil Williams, raised an issue concerning the  "partiality or impartiality of this Commission". This latest in a series of hostile encounters with the Commissioners occurred during the cross-examination of Guyana Police Force, Crime Chief Leslie James by Mr. Williams:
Mr. Williams: In my view when I asked that question, I was interrupted all the time. The question was not… There was nothing to allow the development of the question. There was intervention immediately. In fact, I did allude to an explosion just having occurred; in those circumstances if the first thought of a person to be to go and look, in that condition he was in, to say that he was going to look for medical treatment. It is unreasonable…
…..Mrs. Samuels-Brown: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is not fair for you to say that you were interrupted. You finished the question. I have a note of it. You asked one question, the Witness answered and the next question, “you would agree it is not reasonable, it was not a reasonable decision to go and seek medical attention”. He answered the question. You were not interrupted.
Mr. Williams: Madame Commissioner, I do not agree with you, one. Secondly, when he answered the question then you could further develop it. If I were to ask all those things one time you would say that I am asking more than one question at a time. I do not know what is going on. Why am I not being allowed to do my work? This is the first time that this is happening with this Witness since you resume on this Session, interruptions right away. What is going on, I am an experienced Counsel.
Mr. Chairman: [Chairman Pounds gravel] Mr. Williams, you seem to be commenting adversely on the Commissioners and the Chair…
Mr. Williams: Sir, how could you interrupt and ask that I did not ask this?
Mr. Chairman: You read a page and a half and then you started to ask questions. Mr. Pilgrim intervened at one point and I made a comment. What is this interruption you are talking about? Anyhow, let us get ahead.
Mr. Williams: This is a pattern every time I have to cross-examine a Witness.
Mr. Chairman: I am not aware of that.
Mr. Williams: …every time and then there is an inaccurate statement that you said I just read the letter. After the first paragraph I questioned this Witness so it is an inaccurate statement you made, Mr. Chairman, that I read the letter without asking questions so what is going on.
Mr. Chairman: I would suggest, Mr. Williams, with respect, that you get on in as orderly a manner as we can and let us have your questions.
Mr. Williams: I do not know what the problem is. You interrupt me all the time. I have drawn hundreds of cases you know. My record is unimpeachable in our Assizes, in the Criminal Sessions. What is going on? There are no rules in this Commission of Inquiry of evidence so why when it is my turn you try to invoke rules. Just let us get on with the business. He could answer any question. You told him that before.
Mr. Chairman: Is that a question, Sir?
Mr. Williams: I am putting the question to him, Sir. I am sure you would recognize when the question reaches him, Sir. …because Donald Rodney…
Mrs. Samuels-Brown: The question is finished, right?
Mr. Jairam: [Inaudible]
Mrs. Samuels-Brown: Yes, because I was waiting but I did not want to interrupt.
Mr. Williams: The Chairman interrupted so you did not get a chance to interrupt Madame Commissioner. When the Commission has settled, I will ask my question.
Mrs. Samuels-Brown: The note that I have, “therefore this contention that the Army denied the existence of Gregory Smith, initially, and the identification of Gregory Smith only surfacing some days later cannot hold any water because Donald Rodney”, and my note stop there.
Mr. Williams: Yes, I was going to continue but I was interrupted.
Mr. Chairman: I simply enquired what the question was because…
Mr. Chairman: …you were formulating the questions for at least two minutes before you were engaged.
Mr. Williams: [Laughter]. I do not know…
Mr. Chairman: Do you know how long we were waiting for you…?
Mr. Williams: …Sir, no amount of interruption could throw me off. I do not know what the problem is. That is what I was saying. I was answering the Commissioner, I do not know. Yes, in other words, ipso facto, upon the accident or this incident occurring, Donald Rodney already knew who Gregory Smith was, do you agree with that?
Mr. Jairam: Mr. Williams, you see, I hate to interrupt you but we had Ms. De Souza here who would have been the one that you ought to have pressed on that and she said that they did not take him to a public institution because of certain fears they harbored. His brother had just been killed and they did not want to take him to an established doctor or anybody because of the fear that the police may come to get him and they took him to someone whom they trusted and that person was Dr. Horace Taitt, psychiatrist or whatever he was, they took him to Dr. Taitt.
I thought rather than asking him as the Crime Chief and as respectable as he is, he is speculating as we may have to do. You should have pressed Ms. De Souza about that, “Why did you take him to Dr. Horace Taitt whom you knew to be a Psychiatrist?” not this gentleman here.
…Mr. Williams: So, what is the problem? Why am I being interrupted all the time?! I do not…
Mr. Chairman: A comment…
Mr. Williams: Every time I come to take a witness you interrupt me all the time! I think my achievements might be greater than a lot of others. So I do not know what is going on.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Williams…
Mr. Williams: If you are going to continue to do that, I am going to continue to do this.
Mr. Chairman: A relevant comment by a Commissioner is not an interruption. Man, please get on!
Mr. Williams: Yes, notwithstanding what the Commissioner is saying, I would like you to answer my question.
....Mr. Williams: Sir, is that not an interruption?
Mr. Chairman: You need to be advised, Mr. Williams, that Mr. Donald Rodney is coming here to testify.
Mr. Williams: Sir, but his lawyer has been questioning every witness in this Commission and he has not been told, I do not know why he has not been told, that he should wait for Mr. Donald Rodney to come and I am on record in this Commission asking why Donald Rodney has not been brought. He is the only eyewitness! So, how could it be fair to the PNC and their representative in this Commission of Inquiry that Donald Rodney’s lawyer can ask questions for Donald Rodney of witnesses here but the PNC Lawyer cannot ask? How is that fair?
Mr. Jairam: Is the PNC bringing witnesses?
Mr. Williams: Pardon me?
Mr. Jairam: Is the PNC bringing witnesses?
Mr. Williams: You are trying to impale the PNC.
Mr. Jairam: No.
Mr. Williams: Every witness in this Commission, you are attacking the PNC.
Mr. Jairam: Mr. Williams, I am…
Mr. Williams: In this Commission, you are trying to attack functionaries of the PNC during that period so I do not have to bring witnesses. We have to get to the truth of the testimony of witnesses.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Williams, I propose to adjourn the Inquiry for five minutes so that you can regain your relevant…
Mr. Williams: No, I do not agree with you so you will not interrupt me when I am doing my work.
Mr. Chairman: The Commission stands adjourned for five minutes. [Mr. Chairman pounded the gavel] You are making platform points, you are not....
Mr. Williams: Of the Commission. I have had these instructions from the get-go. I tried to give it a chance to appear. I am giving you notice, I would like to make submissions in relation to the partiality or impartiality of this Commission; I have been instructed by the People’s National Congress to go on, and all the supporters.
Mr. Chairman: In which forum?
Mr. Williams: Here. I am just giving you notice for the appropriate time.
Mr. Chairman: You would want to set an hour for that?
Mrs. Samuels-Brown: [Inaudible]
See, Capitol News Coverage, WARCOI, October 22, 2014. The video provides visual evidence to show the various Commissioners tone and body language - something that cannot be visually observed from a paper transcript or an audio recording.

I have commented on several occasions on the manner in which Sir. Richard L. Cheltenham, K.A., Q.C., Ph.D – Chairman (Barbados) conducts himself as Chair of the Commission. See blog post on Thursday, June 26, 2014, "Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry - Gerald "Gerry" Gouveia evidence - Does a Reasonable apprehension of bias exist?" Online <> Part of what I summarized in the June blog are as follows:
I have listened to the evidence via livesteam on NCN and benefitted from Stabroek News posting the entirety of the video recordings online. The full transcripts of the evidence of Gerald Richard Gouveia is also available for June 26, 2014 and June 27, 2014. Here are some examples of what took place at the hearing:

Sir Richard Cheltenham "Whether given an anomoly was triggered ... did you take any steps to ascertain whether it was Gregory Smith"
Sir Richard Cheltenham "Did it appear to you that you may have provided for his escape... acting on the orders of superiors"
"Was it the duty of the military to provide escape for a killer" Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham asked. "Absolutely not" Gerry Gouveia answered 54 minutes into the video recording Walter Rodney COI, June 26, 2014 - Part 1, Stabroek News, June 26, 2014
"But that must have occurred to you given what you were hearing reported in the media" Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham  persisted.
Having read the media reports Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham pressed on that this man Gregory Smith that was fingered in the media and Gouveia having seen the picture in the newspaper noted that "that is the very man I took. The implication of that is if that report is true that you would have provided escape, on instructions, for a killer."
Gouveia was asked by Sir Richard Cheltenham whether he reported the matter to a superior officer. He said no.
Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham then asked 56 - 57 minutes into the recording:
Did it burden your conscience? NO
Did it troubled you at all? NO
Why not? In the context of a military officer over the years I have been involved in many operations...
Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham in response to the above answers went on to ask "Were you involved in providing escape for a criminal or killers - were you involved in that kind of thing before" Absolutely not Gerry Gouveia answered.
Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham asked "Were you indifferent to whether or not that you were involved in transporting the man that killed Rodney" Commission Chairman, Sir Richard Cheltenham "No Sir" Gerry Gouveia answered.

On July 30, 2014, I have had to take issue with Mr. Cheltenham's conduct where I observed that he was being unfair to a witness, who was an investigator and did not have first hand knowledge of the subject matter at hand. Lt. Col James was in the witness box:

Mr. Chairman: From memory, then, can you tell us to whom d. was issued, 72 guns? 
Mr. Pieters: How can he tell you that from memory when he has his records? Let him see his records, if he has them. He was not there when those records were issued. 
Mr. Chairman: Counsel, why do you not give the witness a chance to answer. Why do you want to answer for him? 
Mr. Pieters: I am not trying to answer for him. He already answered and you are not being fair to the witness. He has the records here. The proper thing is to let him go to the records. Mr. Chairman: [Laughter] Mr. James…
Mr. Hanoman: Maybe the Chairman has to rule on whether the Chairman can ask that question.
Mr. Chairman: I love it, I love it!
Mr. Pieters: You know what? And that is why we have procedural fairness. That is why we have motion of reasonable apprehension of bias and all kinds of things because in these proceedings judges, tribunal chairs are not always fair to witnesses and Counsel. 
Mr. Chairman: In all of these Commissions we have memorable light moments and this is one of them. [Laughter] I now have to seek permission, I do not know from whom, as to whether I can ask a question of the witness. Whoever is there to guide me, I now seek, respectfully, permission. [Laughter] Please help us if you can, Sir.
One can make their own judgement on the professionalism or the lack thereof in the encounter above. Clearly, the conduct to which I speak raises serious concerns about an impartial Commission.

On August 28, 2014, during cross-examination of a witness the Chairman was impatiently curtailing my cross-examination and misconstrued one of my questions in such a way that one of his fellow Commissioners was compelled to intervene:

Mr. Chairman: I do not know how helpful that would be to us either, but you are at end. Is that correct? Are you at an end, Counsel?
Mr. Pieters: Pardon, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Chairman: You have come to the end of your questioning?
Mr. Pieters: No, I have a few more.
Mr. Chairman: Very well, get on.
Mr. Pieters: I am going to suggest to you because Commissioner Jairam's question does require an answer. I am going to suggest to you that at the time what Guyana was facing, both external and internal threats, the People's Army included the citizenry as well.Mr. Chairman: That, by the way is not…. Mr. Jairam made a comment, but if you want to ask a question, do not use Mr. Jairam‟s comment as basis for it, because you have distorted his comment.Mr. Pieters: No, I am not distorting it. I am using it as a launch pad for questioning. Mr. Chairman, I would never distort any questions from you or any of the Commissioners.Mr. Chairman: Let us get ahead, because you have gone well beyond the half an hour you have set yourself for, but get ahead.Mrs. Samuels-Brown: I have a note of the question. It is not a question, just a suggestion; that at the time Guyana was facing external and internal threats, and the People‟s Army included the citizenry as well. I think that is a suggestion made to you. Is that so, Sir?

On August 29, 2014, the same situation when I was checking my notes to ensure I do not duplicate questions aseked by other counsel:

Mr. Chairman: What is the next question, Sir? Are you finished?
Mr. Pieters: No, Mr. Chairman, I am not finished.
Mr. Chairman: Very well. They know how to interpret the long silence.
Mr. Pieters: Sometimes I go through my questions because it may have been answered and I do not want to repeat a question that is answered.
Mr. Chairman: You may seek the indulgence of the Commission, we are happy to give you some indulgence.
Mr. Pieters: I appreciate that Mr. Chairman.
Note how polite I am in dealing with the conduct during my cross-examination.

Again later in the transcript, the Chairman's temperment led to the intervention of one of his fellow Commissioners during my cross-examination:

Mr. Chairman: [Inaudible]
Mr. Pieters: Excuse me.
Mr. Chairman: I would have thought not.
Mr. Pieters: No. I have two more questions for you. You would have agreed, given the fact that…
Mr. Chairman: [Inaudible]
Mr. Pieters: Excuse me.
Mr. Chairman: No more questions from you, but you are still asking. Do you mean except this last one?
Mrs. Samuels-Brown: Two more he said.
Mr. Pieters: Two more.
Mr. Chairman: Oh, two more, sorry.
Mr. Pieters: Two more or Mr. Chairman, you would agree you are out of the looping discussions and so were other in the collective leadership of the WPA in so far as Gregory Smith was concerned and Dr. Walter Rodney?

On July 29, 2014, during cross-examination of a witness, I asked the witness to undertake to produce a file that we have been requesting but which was not produced. This then led to an inappropriate comment from Mr. Cheltenham:

Mr. Pieters: Did you lay that file over with the Commission?
Lt. Col. West: No.
Mr. Pieters: Why did you not lay Norman McLean‟s file to the Commission?
Lt. Col. West: No request was made to the Guyana Defense Force for that file.
Mr. Pieters: Okay, do you have possession of Major General Norman Mclean file?
Lt. Col. West: Yes.
Mr. Pieters: Could you make an undertaken to provide it to the Commission?
Lt. Col. West: Yes.
Mr. Pieters: Corporal Smith has very good instincts.
Mr. Chairman: I notice, Counsel, you are taking over the role of the Commission?
Mr. Pieters: No, Sir, my understanding is maybe in Commissioners of Inquiries it is different but Counsels can ask a witness to make undertakings.
Mr. Chairman: No. Noted the distinction.
Mr. Pieters: The Commission knows that Selwyn Pieters is not going to usurp its role. That much is established. What about Goodwin McPherson, did you find a personal file for Goodwin McPherson?
Lt. Col. West: Yes, I did.
Mr. Pieters: If the Commission had asked you to make an undertaken but I am guided by what the Chairman just says so I will structure my question differently. If the Commission were to make a request of you to produce that file, would you be able to?
Lt. Col. West: Yes.
Mr. Chairman: You are doing some foundation work for us, Sir.
Of course, I mentioned previously the exchange with the Commission at the end of the evidence of Major-General (retd) Norman McLean  on June 05, 2014 and the defensiveness of the Commission when it is called upon to deal with this pertinent and pressing issue. (Sir. Richard L. Cheltenham used the word lecturing numerous times during my submissions on this important point, possibly as a way from distracting me from putting on the record that no substantive documents were presented by the Guyana Defence Force to assist the Commission of Inquiry to make findings of fact that are supported by a proper evidentiary foundation and not a factual vacuum that we are currently operating in).  Afterall full disclosure of relevant and material evidence is a matter of fairness:
Mr. Pieters: Mr. Chairman with the greatest of respect and I am sorry that I speak so much, I guess because I have done so much many of these types of hearings but maybe we should request the file from the military police or intelligence, if they exist for the material time, in respect to this particular matter – The Walter Rodney affair – and what, if anything, the Military Police did to assist the Guyana Police Force, what, if anything, the intelligence unit did, what level of co-ordination there were between these two units. Obviously, the Major General cannot answer those questions 34 years later and he seems to have been out of the loop for whatever reason but if there are records that exist and I wrote to the Commission on this point before, let them be produced.Mr. Chairman: We may find your suggestion useful but for now do you have any questions?Mr. Pieters: I am going to tomorrow morning.Ms. Samuels-Brown: I would just like to point out that the Secretariat has indicated to me that they have been in touch with the Military and I can assure you that the Commissioners, themselves, made preliminary contact with the Military. The request has been made and we have been assure that files are being searched for and certain documents have been presented to us so do not think that we have any dereliction of our duties in that respect. Efforts have been made and are continuing to.Mr. Chairman: Our relationship is ongoing too, our contact in ongoing.Mr. Pieters: The thing that I was thinking about in coming here this morning is Terms of Reference number five (v) because this Commission has been asked to look at what other previous inquest,
p. 137other previous investigations, have done in respect to this matter and this is an international commission of sort because you have Lawyers from other countries, Commissioners from other countries. This Commission must have before it and must make its best effort to get each and every single document before it at an appropriate time. You do not want to find yourselves in a position twenty (20) years later where someone else is looking into your inquiry itself and asking questions which you may have to ask with respect to previous investigations. Any document that would have been relevant for the Major General today should have been here. Somebody should put the pressure on the army to get those documents before the Commission and forthwith.Mr. Chairman: What are you suggesting… that we have not for the most part been doing that?Mr. Pieters: Mr. Chairman you can issue a summons to the army and have the Chief-of-Staff appear here. That is what I would have done if I was sitting in Commission's Counsel position which I have in over a 1,000 hearings. I would have issued a subpoena as a record holder he would have been here and with those documents.Mr. Chairman: The only issue is that you do not get voluntary cooperation.Ms. Rahamat: Mr. Chairman…Mr. Pieters: This is a tribunal hearing into a serious matter.Mr. Chairman: Yes, but you do not walk about issuing subpoenas. You let people cooperate voluntarily with you.Mr. Pieters: The documents should have been here; they are not, a subpoena is appropriate, if it was me.Mr. Chairman: Apart from lecturing the Commission, do you have any questions of the witness?Mr. Pieters: Mr. Chairman, I will proceed with my questions in the morning.Mr. Williams: To support my learned Friend…WALTER RODNEY COMMISSION OF INQUIRYp. 138...Ms. Rahamat: I just wish to state for the record that the Guyana Defense Force has been cooperating with the Secretariat. They have been providing us with documents and we are liaising with one Mr. Patrick West, who is currently serving within the army. It would be inaccurate to say that we have not been receiving cooperation from the Guyana Defence Force. Mr. Williams: Mr. Chairman I just wish to state that the Major General is here by virtue of a subpoena. He has been subpoena to come here and I do not know what cooperation there is and no document are forthcoming from the GDF and by now the document should have been subpoenaed because he has already testify. He has been shown documents so I do not think it lies in the mouth of Counsel for the Commission to say that they are cooperating. Cooperating to produce what? Nothing?Mr. Chairman: I am not sure there is any real dispute that should be pursued here in the terms of which of which it is suggested? No one has suggested to the witness as of yet something that he said that he would need to see documentary support. “Where is the file?” No one has suggested that. All the questions asked of him, for the most part, he answered them out of his own knowledge and with no need for files. So I do not understand what is this big thing is about files.....Mr. Pieters: Mr. Chairman, in the army – I am sure that if you have received a file you would see that – when a major incident happens within the Guyana Defense Force or the Guyana National Service ... do have their own internal inquiries and Commissions of Inquiries and if you were to get the files you would see what Commission of Inquiry was conducted internally by the army in respect to this particular incident because they would have had an inquiry with respect to the Gregory Smith affair, internally.Mr. Chairman: You have the opportunity to ask him about it. You are lecturing the Commission and the chance is there for you to question.Mr. Pieters: I am not lecturing you, Sir. I am just requesting documents and putting my thoughts on the record. I could never lecture such distinguished persons like yourself and please do not take it that way.Mr. Chairman: If for the purposes of your questioning you knew the witness was coming you would have indicated to us you are aware of an inquiry and that you would like him to be walking with file we could have so indicated. In fact, when we adjourn, I do not think we will complete today, we can make that request of him. It can be done quietly, politely and effectively but you seem to know something that we did not know; there was an internal inquiry, you have the opportunity to question him about it, but to the extent that you have mentioned it, we will ask him, Major General most likely please advise Commission Counsel that tomorrow is available to him, yes. It is now half pass two so we are going to take a break shortly, but we will like you to walk as indeed we have been told that there has been a file dealing with an internal inquiry and if it is not too late for you to get hold of this, I do not know where it may be filed I will be glad if you could walk with it. Well you are no longer there, but it may very well be that you cannot, but if you cannot we will make efforts to get of the Army.14.27hrsMr Pieters: Mr Chairman why do you not direct the Army to bring it here tomorrow. Ask the record holder to bring the file just like you would the hospital or anywhere else. He is no longer with the Army and would not have possession of Government property. That is the Government of Guyana‟s property. Direct the Army to do it that what your powers are as Commissioners.Mr. Chairman: I do not know why you are so energetically lecturing us. I take on board the suggestion, however, that we can make the request of the custodian of the files I do not know whether we will get them here in time, but we can if necessary.Mr Pieters: We are trying to get to the truth of this matter and every single document that exists and should exist, should be here.  That is what my point is. I am certainly prepared to excuse myself from the Commission if that cannot happen because I am not prepared to be part of a tribunal where 20 years later my name is on the record and it is questioned as to why we did not take the due diligence to get those documents. If I was Commission Counsel and advising you, a subpoena would be issued. I was Counsel for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada on many cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity and many other cases, and we made sure we dealt with international agencies through our mission to get as much evidence as possible, so that when decisions are made, there was a full factual foundation. And that is the problem I am finding with this case that the Army has produced nothing. I have no evidence as to what steps the Commission took to get those materials from the Army, a Major General is here, no documents that are properly with the Army are here to put before him including Gregory Smith's file and that is totally unacceptable because if those files were here, it would have shown what steps were taken to deal with the Gregory Smith's desertion. None of which is here, and one of the counsel representing the Rodney's family has already asked his questions without the benefit of seeing those documents.

I can go through more transcripts and will update this as time permits but these few examples suffice to show my personal experience that grounds my view and that expressed by Lincoln Lewis in his witness statement.


Walter Rodney COI, June 26, 2014 - Part 1, Stabroek News, June 26, 2014

Walter Rodney COI, June 26, 2014 - Part 2, Stabroek News, June 26, 2014

Walter Rodney COI, June 26, 2014 - Part 3, Stabroek News, June 26, 2014

Walter Rodney COI, June 26, 2014 - Part 4, Stabroek News, June 26, 2014

Kaieteurnewsonline, Chairman has shown his bias – Harmon, June 27, 2014

Selwyn A. Pieters, B.A. (Toronto), LL.B. (Osgoode), L.E.C. (U.W.I). Lawyer & Notary Public (Ontario). Attorney-at-Law (Republic of Guyana and Republic of Trinidad and Tobago).

Selwyn has appeared at all levels of courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada in Attorney General of Ontario v. Michael J. Fraser, et al., 2011 SCC 20, Ontario Court of Appeal in Freeman-Maloy v. Marsden 267 D.L.R. (4th) 37, 208 O.A.C. 307 (C.A.); Bangoura v. Washington Post (2005) 202 O.A.C. 76, (2005) 17 C.P.C. (6th) 30 (Ont.C.A.), the Federal Court of Appeal in The Honourable Sinclair Stevens v. The Conservative Party of Canada, [2005] F.C.J. No. 1890, 2005 FCA 383. He represented Correctional Manager Mariann Taylor-Baptiste in the ground-breaking competing rights case of Taylor-Baptiste v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union, 2012 CarswellOnt 8965, 2012 HRTO 1393, 2012 C.L.L.C. 230-022 reconsideration denied in 2013 CarswellOnt 1033, 2013 HRTO 180, 2013 C.L.L.C. 230-019 at the HRTO; Civil Rights lawyer Charles Roach in the Oath cases of McAteer, Topey, Dror-Natan v. Canada (Attorney General) 2013 CarswellOnt 13165, 2013 ONSC 5895 (ON S.C.) and Roach et al. v. Canada 2012 CarswellOnt 7799, 2012 ONSC 352 (ON S.C.) which is a constitutional challenge to the oath in the Citizenship Act.

Selwyn has provided representation to persons charged with various criminal offenses including Drugs: Selling and Possessing, Shoplifting, Serious Offences of Violence: Aggravated Assault, Assault with a Weapon and Robbery, Gun Offences, sexual assault, robbery, theft, extortion, HIV/AIDS litigation; fraud, break & enter, attempted murder, murder, regulatory offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, professional disciplinary offences, and conspiracy offences.

Selwyn has also been involved in drugs, guns and gang trials including "Project Green Apple", "Project XXX" and "Project Kryptic", "Project Corral" which are some of Canada's largest Criminal Organization prosecutions. Selwyn is currently counsel for an accused in "Project Feline" and Project Revival" drug sting operations. In Project Corral, Selwyn's advocacy resulted in the "gang expert" evidence being discredited and the Criminal Organization charges against his client and others being tossed out by the Court: R. v. Agil, Chambers, Fullerton, Jimale and Brown 2011 CarswellOnt 18099 (Ont. CJ. July 14, 2011, Khawley J.)

Selwyn recently obtained an extraordinary remedy of costs agains the Crown for failure to provide disclosure of police officer memo book notes in R. v. W.(J.), [2013] O.J. No. 2284, 2013 CarswellOnt 6322, 2013 ONCJ 270 (Ont. CJ.).

Selwyn is the successful litigant in the recent racial profiling case involving carding of three Black men: Peel Law Association v. Pieters, 2013 CarswellOnt 7881, 2013 ONCA 396, 228 A.C.W.S. (3d) 204, 116 O.R. (3d) 81, 306 O.A.C. 314, 9 C.C.E.L. (4th) 233, [2013] O.J. No. 2695.

Selwyn has provided crucial legal advise to clients duringhigh risk situations such as gun calls, hostage taking, barricaded persons, mentally disturbed persons, high risk arrests and public order control in situations where there is significant public disorder, lawlessness, personal injury and property damage. Charges of cause disturbance and assault police can be pretextual racial profiling charges: R. v. Roach, 2005 O.J. No. 5278 (Ont. C.J.) (Criminal Law - Causing a Disturbance); R. v. Ramsaroop, 2009 CarswellOnt 5281, 2009 ONCJ 406 (Ont. CJ.); R. v. Taylor, 2010 CarswellOnt 6584, 2010 ONCJ 396, [2010] O.J. No. 3794 (Ont. CJ.)

Selwyn was co-counsel in the world's first-ever sexual HIV transmission murder trial of Johnson Aziga in Hamilton, Ontario. See, for example, R. v. Aziga, 2008 CanLII 39222 (ON S.C.); R. v. Aziga; 2008 CarswellOnt 4300 (ON S.C.) and R. v. Aziga, 2008 CanLII 29780 (ON S.C.)

Selwyn argued on racial profiling includes: R. v. Steele, 2010 ONSC 233 (ON S.C.) and R. v. Egonu, 2007 CanLII 30475 (ON SC) - Driving while black and R. v. Bramwell-Cole [2010] O.J. No. 5838 (ON S.C.) - walking while black.

Selwyn has acted in exclusion cases at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada: See, Song Dae Ri (Re) 2003 CarswellNat 4527; (2004) 36 Imm. L.R. (3d) 203; Liang (Re) 2002 CarswellNat 4719; 33 Imm. L.R. (3d) 251.

Selwyn has appeared in  Coroners' Inquest including: Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Negus Topey (May 02, 2005, Coroners' Court, Dr. K.A. Acheson) Ruling on Application for Standing; Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Dwight Haughton (Coroners' Court, Dr. Evans) Ruling on Application for Standing; Coroner's Inquest into the Death of Jeffrey Reodica(May 04, 2006, Coroners' Court, Dr. B. Porter) Ruling on Application for Standing

Selwyn also acted as co-counsel with C. Nigel Hughes for the families of three deceased persons killed during a civil demonstration in Linden, Guyana, at the Linden Commission of Inquiry. Selwyn is currently co-counsel with Brian M. Clarke representing the Guyana Trades Union Congress in the Walter Anthony Rodney Commission of Inquiry in Georgetown, Guyana.

No comments: