In light of the posturing of several commentators on social media regarding my words and actions on 5th March, 2020 at the Gecom Command Centre on High and Hadfield streets, Georgetown I feel constrained to provide the following contextual observations.
First of all, I was there in my non-partisan capacity as an accredited local observer of the Guyana Bar Association. The Bar Association’s primary concern is to observe and promote adherence to the rule of law. Whenever such breaches are clearly apparent, I consider it irresponsible to remain silent. There appears to be condemnations regarding 2 separate incidents;
- An international foreign observer with exactly the same rights and obligations as myself was permitted access to the top storey of the building on the said evening in my presence. I immediately followed behind him but the police physically and orally denied me the same access in other words, I was discriminated against. This is why on the video which is currently circulating social media, the first words which are clearly audible are “you allow the foreign observers, you have to allow the local observers”. I consider myself duty bound to confront discrimination fearlessly whenever it occurs. My quip about marking the faces of the police was my way of reminding the police of their duty to act lawfully regardless of which government was in power. Dr Irfaan Ali was nearby and served as a useful way of enforcing my point. In retrospect, I ought to have been less abrasive in my approach. I realize that members of the police force have the monumental and difficult task of acting professionally under duress and undue influence and I also realise that they were perhaps simply acting upon instructions from their superiors. I maintain however that those officers have no obligation to carry out instructions which are, in themselves, unlawful and discriminatory. Local observers are to be afforded the same privileges as international observers. Beyond this, there was clear authoritarian and oppressive behaviour by the Police Force that night, including committing breaches of the Constitution, Representation of the People Act, and the Police Act, which was unbecoming for members of the Police Force. I do believe that any Police Officer committing these breaches should not be in the line of duty, whatever their race, sex, or political orientation may be. These breaches include, most worryingly, assaulting individuals, impeding access by elections observers to observe the election, and preventing Court Marshals from serving court documents on several GECOM officials, a breach of the law which sadly, continues today.
2.There was a subsequent incident where a person was physically preventing officials access to the Chairman of the Elections Commission. He pretended to be part of her security detail and declared that she had orally indicated certain things to him. When questioned about where and when he spoke to her he could not provide an answer and immediately and suspiciously scurried away. He was confronted by someone else downstairs as to his suspicious behaviour and I went up to inspect his badge and noticed that he was a logistics clerk. In the midst of trying to discover whether something nefarious was afoot, James Bond put his hand around the Gecom clerk and physically pulled him away from us, effectively preventing persons from asking him any further questions which he appeared willing to answer.
At the time there was evidence that tended to suggest that certain Gecom staff were actively attempting to compromise the process in favour of the political party with which Mr James Bond is affiliated. At no time was anyone trying to assault the clerk or James Bond. Mr Bond was seeking to prevent a legitimate and justifiable endeavour to interview the clerk. Unfortunately, he succeeded. I therefore, condemn and deny in the strongest possible terms the allegation of Mr. James Bond that I was attempting to assault the clerk, Mr. Bond cannot purport to know my intentions, and common sense dictates that I would never have assaulted the clerk, as those actions would serve no purpose other than to bolster a narrative that Mr. Bond is attempting to convince the public of.
Those of the public that know me and have followed my career as an attorney-at-law, know that I offer and have offered my services to people of any race, creed or political affiliation. Indeed, I have even served as counsel defending Mr. James Bond, the very person who now levels unwarranted accusations against me.
I have never had any political affiliation; on the other hand, Mr. James Bond has a very clear political affiliation. I therefore urge the general public to take what Mr. James Bond says with the proverbial “grain of salt” as statements emanating from him may well be made with the intent of pushing a certain agenda and/or supporting a particular political narrative.