Friday, March 13, 2015

Courtney Crum-Ewing - his murder, the 2015 elections and implications for a democratic state

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 Friday, March 13, 2015
Updated August 09, 2015

On March 10, 2015, whilst on the political husting at Third Avenue, Diamond Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara (EBD) in the leadup to the May 11, 2015 National and Regional elections in the Republic of Guyana, the political assassination of a known opposition activist Courtney Crum-Ewing occurred. Symbolic was his yellow AFC T-Shirt in which he was attired and his bullhorn or loudspeaker that lay nearby. At first blush, I posited that the terror campaign by those bent on holding on to power at any cost has began to make Guyana ungovernable.

Mr. Crum-Ewing, whilst advocating for people to come out to vote was murdered. Shot down in cold blood by one or more persons bent on silencing him for his brave, fervent and strident advocacy against a state of the running of the affairs of Guyana by the current government that is rotten to the core.

Mr. Crum-Ewing launched a vocal and visible one-man protest outside of the Chambers of Guyana's Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall MP. His protest was primarily driven by a chilling telephone conversation that Mr. Nandlall had with a journalist that in any interpretation was highly inappropriate and some say borders on the realm of criminality: See, Mr. Nandlall's full speech, via Stabroeknews' Youtube page

Mr. Crum-Ewing during the time that he was protesting outside of the Chambers of the Ministry of the Attorney General was arrested, faced criminal charges - part of which stemmed from the use of a public washroom at the said chambers. Mr. Crum-Ewing had his source of income in the form of his mini-bus (maxi-taxi) destroyed. He was subjected to extra-ordinary police surveillance. He was subjected to various acts of imtimidation and harassment. All of which were done in the public's eye outside of the offices of Guyana's Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall MP. Mr. Crum-Ewing wrote the following in a January 11, 2015 facebook message:
I awake this morning to the singing of beautiful birds outside my Window. Praise be to God. I'm burning inside, burning because it's the 3rd month of my protest action and sadly it seems hardly anyone realizes or cares that this kind of sacrifice bares a scar. Transportation/ fuel commute 25 miles daily, meals/ refreshments, supplements, lost earnings/ family time, lost friends, government harassment and victimization, vandalism to the tune of approximately $500,000 GYD, my inability to travel to the USA to visit my daughters for the holidays, since after I posted for a volunteer to stand in Noone came forward, and I can go on. Folks a prominent guyanese saw me last week and ask how was the breakfast I've been receiving? She was informed by a prominent son name given that he supplies meals daily, i responded not true not even once. Folks I'm well aware of and appreciate the moral support of all those rooting for me, but I shouldn't have to beg, for Noone had to beg me to take a stand, my sacrifice is costly and its for all of us. I never signed up for this expecting to get rich, but I refuse to accept that losing money during this our struggle, at the rate that I am, is a necessary evil. It's unfair to me and it hurts. I'm losing my voice, honey stop working weeks ago, losing my voice talking to my fellow citizens daily, outside AG chambers, about selflessness, love for country, the contents of Anil's transcript and it's translation, etc. If this cold selfishness isn't corrected, I will have to reconsider my strategy/approach to this cause. Just had to clear my chest. Love u guys and please continue to pray for CourtneyCrum-Ewing.

Article 146 and 147 of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana (Guyana Constitution), Chapter 1:01 of the Laws of Guyana provides that:
146. (1) Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference and freedom from interference with his correspondence.
147. (1) Except with his or her own consent, no person shall be hindered in the employment of his her freedom of assembly, association and freedom to demonstrate peacefully, that is to say, his or her right to assemble freely, to demonstrate peacefully and to associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties, trade unions or other associations for the protection of his or her interests.
Underlying Article 146 (1) freedom of expression are the core values of (1) seeking the truth and the common good; (2) promoting self-fulfillment of individuals by allowing them to develop thoughts and ideas as they see fit; and (3) ensuring that participation in the political process is open to all persons.

Article 147(1) freedom of association is meant to protect the collective pursuit of common goals; it allows people to bind together in various ways for the most diverse purposes. It is an essential form of action and expression which informs the entire life of the community.

That Mr. Crum-Ewing was murdered while  engaged in electioneering on behalf of the APNU/AFC in the Diamond area came in the wake of a week of interesting politics in Guyana.

March 08, 2015, is a day that obstensibly should be focused on the memory of Dr. Cheddie Jagan, a long-time politician, Premier, Opposition Leader, and former President of Guyana. During the PPP/C political campaign in Babu Jaan, former Executive President Bharrat Jagdeo very vocally echoed his edit to the current Executive President Donald Ramotar "And Donald you are a democratic man, sometimes we need to administer something else you know, some kicks up some asses too.” This statement has been and will continue to subjected to analysis and various interpretation but such a statement shows some intolerance in a free and democratic society.

On March 10, 2015, Mr. Seelall Persaud, D.S.M. was sworn into his position of Commissioner of Police, having acted in that position for close to one year. According to GINA:
Commissioner Seelall indicated, even if a worse case scenario presents itself such as a “total breakdown in law and order,” he emphasised.  He stated that he and the police force have been preparing for the eventuality since the formal date was announced.
Image result for "courtney crum-ewing"The  Ministry of Home Affairs, where the line Minister is responsible for the internal security of the state, includng policing issued a press statement. That press statement read:
Press Statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
March 10th 2015
The Ministry of Home Affairs condemns in the strongest possible terms, the shooting to death of Courtney Crum Ewing by unknown person or persons this evening in the Grove /Diamond area, East Bank Demerara.
The Minister of Home Affairs has given orders to the Commissioner of Police to take immediate action with a view to getting to the bottom of this execution-type shooting incident, through the most thorough investigation.
Though it is early yet to draw any specific conclusion or motive in connection with the perpetration of this dastardly act, the Ministry of Home Affairs wishes to alert the general public to be vigilant in respect of any act of violence provoked or unprovoked, that might be possibly initiated by those who may have a political agenda.
The Ministry notes the deep coincidence between the fatal shooting incident and the earlier swearing in of the new Commissioner of Police.
The Ministry extends its sympathy to family and relatives of Courtney Crum Ewing and pledges to support the police in their investigations to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice.
The Ministry calls on anyone who may have knowledge about the circumstances /motive surrounding the shooting death of Courtney Crum Ewing to give their full support to the police in their investigation.
On March 10, 2015, I understood the Commissioner of Police to say post swearing in that the Guyana Police Force has been trained and is ready for every and all eventualities including a total breakdown in law and order during the 2015 elections. A known activist was killed the said evening in circumstances that suggested a nexus to politics.

Having regard to the statement of the  Ministry of Home Affairs, could the suggestion of "the deep coincidence between the fatal shooting incident and the earlier swearing in of the new Commissioner of Police" be that the death squad ran out of [....] are operating outside of the law and want to send a message that the Commissioner of Police, Guyana Police Force, cannot touch them? Alternatively, could the suggestion be that agent provaceteurs bent on staying in power took the action to disrupt the peace and order during the elections? In order words, create a crises of public disorder and tit-for-tat violence? In the other alternative, could the coincidence be that the concept of the "democratic man" is being thrown by the wayside for "kick-ass" politics?

In my opinion, the murder of Mr. Crum-Ewing suggests that the death squads received their marching orders last weekend and now the political assassinations has begun in Guyana.

Whatever the motive for the murder of Mr. Crum-Ewing the effect is chilling for his family, notably his three young daughters; his friends and society as a whole.

Recently Regan "Grey boy" Rodrigues was charged by the Guyana Police Force with the murder of activist Courtney Crum Ewing. Rajput Narine, an ex-bodyguard of former Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), was arrested by the Guyana Police Force. He has yet to be charged. Anil Nandlall distanced himself fvrom his bodyguard, claiming that the bodyguard worked for him for less than one week.

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  and Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, et al. v. Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center), et al. (2015 - decision reserved); 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.), McAteer v. Canada (Attorney General) 2014 CarswellOnt 10955, 2014 ONCA 578, 121 O.R. (3d) 1, 376 D.L.R. (4th) 258 (CA) and most recently R. v. Steele (2015) ONCA 169 (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. ONSC 352 (ON S.C.).

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 representing the Guyana Trades Union Congress in the Walter Anthony Rodney Commission of Inquiry in Georgetown, Guyana.

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