Statement by the Guyana Bar Association and the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers on the Attorney-General’s recorded conversation
The Guyana Bar Association and the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers wish to express their concern their consternation at the recorded conversation between the Attorney-General and a member of the media. Everything done and said by the Attorney-General since the disclosure of the conversation invites us to draw every and all reasonable inferences therefrom. The statements made by the Attorney-General point to serious legal and moral infractions on his part having regard to his standing as one of the highest legal officers in our country. In the recording the Honorable Attorney-General offered in vulgar and obscene language, knowledge of actual and planned illegal activities. Even in private conversation the comments are deeply troubling and inappropriate and their candid nature, unbridled by the conventions of public discourse, calls his character and professionalism into question.
We are most concerned that the Attorney-General appeared to be acknowledging that the use of deadly violence against the media was an acceptable reaction to frustration where public officials and other citizens are offended by what is reported about them. He also referred to making restitution of funds used by him for some purpose which he did not want the press to report about. The President of Guyana is said to have participated in conversations with a defendant in extant criminal prosecution to have same discontinued in return for less critical reporting by her co-defendant. Equally disturbing is his persistent objectification of the unidentified woman, which conduct flies in the face of the Government’s obligations and commitments regarding respect for women.
Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are essential to the rule of law and political democracy. These freedoms result frequently in the publication of true information which may be offensive or embarrassing to some persons. But the Attorney-General needs no lecture on such matters. His Government is well acquainted with the perils of a society where the media must be “well-behaved” or otherwise risk being killed or intimidated.
Public officials are given wide powers and great responsibility to make thousands of important decisions many of which never see the light of day. We expect in return for the privilege of office, that they demonstrate good character and judgment. Where they demonstrably fail to do so either by public action or by private conduct which bears on their fitness for office, as the Attorney-General has done, such public officials should be removed from office.
As leader of the Bar, the Attorney General mindful of the honour, dignity and integrity of his office should resign immediately. If he does not resign he should be removed. Any other result would be an endorsement of the Attorney-General’s conduct and an admission by the Executive that the highest moral and legal standards are not applicable to the State.
31st October 2014
For further information please contact Ronald Burch-Smith, Christopher Ram or Simone Morris-Ramlall