AG joins criminal appeal challenging death penalty constitutionality – Guyana Times
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Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, has filed a motion in the Guyana Court of Appeal asking to be joined as an interested party in an appeal filed by three Guyana Defense Force (GDF) Coast Guard sentenced to death by hanging in 2013 for murder. The murder criminals – Sherwyne Harte, Devon Gordon, and Deon Greenidge – were convicted of the August 20, 2009, murder of Bartica gold miner Dwieve Kant Ramdass. The death sentence was imposed on all of them by High Court Judge Franklin Holder. In asking the Court of Appeal to set aside their conviction and sentence, the convicted killers argued, among other things, that the death penalty was unlawful as it was in violation of the Guyana Constitution. They also argued that the death penalty was unconstitutional as it was a violation of the constitutional right under Article (1) and Article 40 (1) of the Constitution.
Through their lawyers Nigel Hughes and Latchmie Rahamat, the convicts submitted that Article 40 (1) of the Constitution provides an independent right to life and human dignity which prohibits the imposition of the death penalty “and which is separately enforceable and external in scope the general saving clause in Article 152 of the Constitution. ” According to the lawyers, imposing the death penalty violates the constitutional prohibition against inhuman and degrading sanctions or other treatment within Article 141 of the Constitution because the capital punishment offends against the evolving stances of humanity as demonstrated by the Domestic and international state. practice. “Implementing the death penalty following a long de-facto moratorium would be contrary to Guyana’s binding international law obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Imposing a sanction which is legally unenforceable is in itself cruel and unusual in breach of Article 141 of the Constitution. ”
The public interest In a Notice of Motion requesting to be joined as an interested party in the criminal appeal, Nandlall said the issue raises new and important constitutional issues that go to the heart of Guyana’s constitutional ethos and address the vexatious question about the legality of the death penalty. . “The Attorney General is seeking to intervene as a party to the appeal to assist the court with written and oral submissions to assist the court in putting all relevant cases and authorities before the court,” said Legal Officer Ocelisa Marks in an affidavit . Marks said the Attorney General is the main legal adviser to the Government of Guyana and has a public duty to protect the public interest and is the custodian of the public conscience. Against this background, he said, “The addition of the Attorney General will certainly assist the court and promote the development of the law and jurisprudence surrounding the death penalty.” According to Marks, the nature of the appeal makes it a public interest issue because it poses a challenge to the constitutionality of the death penalty for its complete removal from Guyana laws which is a matter of high constitutional law. “The court has the power and duty to modify relevant legislation to ensure that it is applied consistently with the fundamental rights and principles of the Constitution,” Marks noted in the affidavit.
Fresh evidence At a Case Management Conference (CMC) in the matter of substance, Hughes informed the court that he will be leading new evidence on the legality of the death penalty and will be calling two witnesses – a professor at Middlesex University and a professor from the Columbia School of Law. Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Dionne McCammon will lead the case for the State. In the meantime, the Notice of Motion will be heard for hearing on April 30, 2021, in the Court of Appeal. It will be hosted via Zoom. In the meantime, the Court of Appeal has set strict timelines by which the appropriate parties are to submit submissions and affidavits before the hearing. It was reported that on the day in question, at Caiman Hole in the Essequibo River, former GDF ranks forced Ramdass to their boat and released him $ 17 million, which he was carrying in a box for his employer. Then they left Ramdass all over. During the three-month case, the prosecution called 16 witnesses. The court also admitted cautionary statements issued by former GDF coast guards following a vicious voir.