Supreme Court of Judicature (Appeal) (Amendment) Bill2974 07 Feb, 2013
Ms. Shadick: I agree that this Bill is late, but it is here and in it I can see hope for victims of especially crimes such as rape, crimes of a sexual nature.
We picked out some things and we said Barry Dataram’s case and Henry Greene’s case – God rest his soul - moving, and so on, but there are things that are nearer to us. There were children who were sexually abused by predators. I remember one case where a very prominent member of the Guyanese society was charged with sexually abusing young girls of one family and the matter went to the Magistrates’ Court, but because that prominent member had money and could have taken a lawyer, he did what people did, in the case of the late Henry Greene, but in this case the charges were already laid. Their argument was… I went to court fifty-one times and that matter did not finish, so the High Court must rule that the matter must be dismissed.
Nobody, in all of this, lawyers and fees and High Court, and all of those things, thinks of the victims, those people who have no voice and were not able to speak for themselves because, in the beginning, in the Magistrates’ Court, they could not have taken lawyers. They were being represented by police prosecutors.
Mr. Speaker: Ms. Shadick, I hope one of the lawyers, who speaks tonight, rebuts that, that we show no consideration for the victim.
Ms. Shadick: I am not saying that we do not show. I am saying that in the whole scheme of things, when the High Court made that decision, that that matter must finish because that person had gone on and he had been negatively impacted by this matter. He had become, whatever you want to call it,… [Mr. Nandlall: Suffered miscarriage of justice.] He had suffered miscarriage of justice because his matter had been called in the Magistrates’ Court fifty-one times and not concluded.
The decision was made in favour of the perpetrator of sexual abuse against children. Those children had no voice in that. That matter, having been dismissed, and so on, could not have been appealed because of this law. There are many such as those. I agree with my honourable friend about when somebody applies for bail and it is not granted, because it originated from a criminal cause or action, the decision of the High Court, which did not grant the bail, is not appealable. I agree. Whilst it is advancing our legal system and it is revising our laws and is taking us to a place where other countries are, what I am looking at is that it is a law that will help to give those voiceless people, those victims of the criminal enterprise a little more hope that there will be justice somewhere on the horizon, whether it is with our Court of Appeal or the Caribbean Court of Justice.
We need to understand that in any criminal enterprise there is a victim and the perpetrator is the one that is charged, and so on. That one goes to court and that one gets all… He goes to that… under this law he gets…The victims are the ones who have to get the justice, the people who have suffered, and those are the ones I want to remind this House about tonight. Those are the ones for whom I am extremely happy tonight that it seems as if this Bill will pass unanimously. It seems as if this Bill meets with the approbation of everybody in this House because it long overdue. We know that it is long overdue. I heard somebody said that it is twenty years too late. I do not want to say that it is too late, but it is late, and it is never too late to correct an injustice.
I agree that there are other laws that have to change. I agree that there has to be law revision, but we have to take things one step at a time. Remember that there is a division in the Attorney General’s Chamber for drafting laws that is severely limited in its ability to draft new laws. All of these are realities that our country has to take into consideration.
This here comes to this House… There are pieces of legislation that have been coming to this House in a steady stream. The one that recognises the right of a common law spouse to apply for letters of administration after having lived for years without the benefit of a legal marriage or marriage certificate was a little issue but it redressed an injustice that affected a big part of our population. These pieces of legislation, whilst they might be coming, according to our friend on the Opposition side - I heard when the Attorney General said that Court of Appeal Judge Mr. Ramson called on this legislative Assembly – Mr. Basil Williams said that he called on the Government. He did not call on the Government; he has to call on this body, this National Assembly, because this is where the laws are made. As the Opposition is fond of saying that in the new dispensation even if it came here and it has one extra and it says no, then it would not pass. It is this National Assembly that has to pass it. The court did not call on the Government, the court called on the legislature.
There is this toing and froing, apparently people want to go home, but they do not want to hear the hard facts that there are so many people who are going to be positively affected by this Bill. What I am seeking to do is to remind people of those who will be positively affected by this Bill. I am hoping that those who stand up to and say that they are talking for the victims would be happy that I am saying this because it is those victims and those victims’ families who need the closure and the justice that they deserve. That is what this piece of legislation will help to bring to the people of this country.
With those very few words… There are so many cases (I do not want to pick out the young Jones who disappeared. I did not know him personally, but some of us pick out things for political reasons.) where appeals were denied because the person charged could afford to get a good lawyer and go to the High Court and get a decision in his or her favour which is not appealable because the underlying cause was criminal. That, Mr. Speaker, is what this House needs to reflect upon and needs to understand. It is not just to say, “Okay, well, we passed this piece and we have more to pass.” We need to reflect on the good this piece is doing to the people of this country.
With that, I commend the Bill to this House and I am sure that all of this restlessness is saying, “Well, look, get on with this and let us go home”, but everybody has a right to say what they have to say in this House and I demand that I be allowed to say what I want to say.
Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. [Applause]
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