Monday, March 16, 2015

Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry - Propaganda Press of Guyana Chronicle

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 March 17, 2015

On January 07, 2015, I wrote to the Secretariat of the Walter Rodney Commission stating as follows:
Thank you for your correspondence in respect to the proposed resumption of the Commission which you advised may resume sitting on January 26, 2015. On November 07, 2014, that was the final day of the last round of hearings, Chairman Sir. Richard L. Cheltenham closed the hearing with this pronouncement “We will issue a notice well in advance as to when next we will be meeting, but the days and months ahead might be uncertain. Even though we have agreed on a date, we will let you know closer to the time because we may have to change depending on what is happening on the ground.” An uncertainty or more has arisen. Fundamentally, Parliament has been prorogued under Article 70 (1) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Chapter 1:01. The President in his New Years message has announced that he will be calling elections within the first quarter of 2015. It appears premature to propose any schedule until the issues of state as mentioned above are settled. That is my respectful view having regard to the circumstances and Mr. Basil Williams email below that speaks to the election campaigning that is occurring in Guyana with the political parties.
No formal response was received from the Commission as is the usual pattern of behavior when counsel send correspondence to the Commission Secretariat.

The Commission resumes its public hearings from March 23, 2015 to March 27, 2015. In the leadup to the resumption of the Commission the propaganda continues. On March 16, 2015, I wrote the following in response to an article in Guyana Chronicle:

On another note, I applaud freedom of the press and "responsible journalism". However, the propaganda in the Guyana Chronicle leaves much to be desired and does politicized the Commission in an unacceptable way. Today's online publication in its headline section alone illustrates the point: 
"Our nation stands perplexed and puzzled that Opposition Leader, Brigadier David Granger, adamantly refuses to participate in this process. One would expect, not only as a former top leader of the Guyana Defense Force (GDF), but also given his current leadership role in our nation, that Brigadier Granger would want to solve the Dr Rodney cold case and see the ghost of the past put to rest." RODNEY’S DEATH: AN ENIGMA BEING ANSWERED Special Report on the Rodney Commission of Inquiry by Shaun Michael Samaroo : Rohee testifies to Commission of X13  <> retrieved on 2015-03-16 
The Commission has yet to reach witnesses Lincoln Lewis, Cecil Skip Roberts, Norman McLean, Rupert Roopnarine. This process, unless Salmon Letters, were issued, is voluntary. So it is unclear why the taxpayer funded papers is carrying the line that Granger "adamantly refuses to participate in this process." In a meaningful way Granger is present in through his counsel Basil Williams. 
"But the Opposition Leader refuses to acknowledge the Commission’s integrity, and even said that if his coalition wins the May 11 national elections, he would terminate the Commission’s work." It was repeated to the Commission more than once that a Presidential Commission survives irrespective of who is the President of the Republic of Guyana. How then does the Guyana Chronicle get away with the irresponsibility of stating that the Commission folds if a new government assumes power? 
"The Commission vindicates the role of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), and is writing the admirable history of this political party in the making of modern Guyana." The Commission has made no findings and has written nothing in respect to the WPA or any other political party. 
"The Opposition uses the excuse that the Government is using the Commission as political currency, to opt out of facing the evidence the Commission unearths." As a Canadian based lawyer of Guyanese origin reading this said view that the Commission is being used as "political currency", the process of examination, cross-examination, re-examination and other built in mechanism such as impartiality, integrity and other tennets of the quasi-judicial system makes that difficult, in the hearing process. [For a discussion on challenges in the hearing process and the conduct of the Commission of Inquiry, please see, previous blog postings: A Revisiting of the Issue of Partiality or Impartiality of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry, Oct 22, 2014; Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry - Gerald "Gerry" Gouveia evidence - Does a Reasonable apprehension of bias exist?, June 26, 2014; and Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry - The Battle for Contemporaneous Documents June 13, 2014]
The witnesses up to the final moment of the Commission's hearing remains to be seen. However, purported blackmail of potential and/or prospective witnesses through unfounded and untested allegations splashed across the national newspapers are unhelpful. 
In Canada, Leon Mugesera faced the music for his propaganda and speeches in the lead up to a genocide. Mugesera v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [2005] 2 SCR 100, 2005 SCC 40 (CanLII), <> retrieved on 2015-03-16
I pull no punches in say[ing] that given the current situational context in Guyana such publications in the face of an election campaign is not only unhelpful but disgraceful.

See also, PPP calls for Granger, Harmon to appear before Rodney CoI –to account for missing army weapons <>  retrieved on 2015-03-16

Guyana Times, Last Chance <>  retrieved on 2015-03-16

Youtube <> Post Cabinet press briefing by HPS Dr Roger Luncheon 4th March, 2015 starts at 20:39 retrieved on 2015-03-16

GINA <> Rodney’s death… HPS queries why surviving PNC personalities of that era have not yet volunteered to testify before COI  retrieved on 2015-03-16

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.

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(Ont. C.A.).

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.

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