GEORGETOWN, Guyana, November 5, 2022 - Lawyers for Guyana attorney Tameika Clarke, on Friday filed an action in the Supreme Court against the Attorney General, declaring that her fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed and protected by Article 139 of the Constitution was breached on 28th October when she was arrested by Officers of the Special Organised Crime Unit.
The suit which was filed by Attorneys-at-law C.A.Nigel Hughes, Ronald Daniels and Shawn A. Shewram of the law firm Hughes, Fields and Stoby, declared that under the fundamental right and freedoms as set out in Article 40 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana:
“An Attorney at law admitted to practice in Guyana is entitled to advise a client of the Client's entitlement to remain silent when being questioned by members of any law enforcement agency or body in Guyana;”
“An Attorney at law admitted to practice at the Bar in Guyana is entitled to consult with his/her client in private without the contents of the consultation being recorded in any way including by means of audio visual recording by any law enforcement agency in Guyana or elsewhere;
”The detention and seizure of the Applicant's cellular phone by Officers of the Special Organised Crime Unit on the 28th day of October, 2022 without the permission of the Applicant and without lawful excuse was wrongful;
“The Applicant as a practicing Attorney at law, is entitled to advise any person who has sought her counsel to exercise the right to remain silent when questioned by a member of any law enforcement agency in Guyana;
“The right of any citizen to remain silent when questioned by an officer of a law enforcement agency in Guyana;
“The right of access of all arrested, detained or imprisoned persons to be provide time and facilities to be visited by and to communicate and consult with an Attorney-at-law, without delay, interception or censorship and in full confidentiality. Such consultations may be within sight, but not within the hearing of and or recording by law enforcement officials.
"The right that all persons are immediately informed by the competent law enforcement agency or authority of their right to be assisted by an Attorney at law of their own choice upon arrest or detention or when charged with a criminal offence.
The suit is claiming damages for wrongful arrest and detention, for the false imprisonment of the lawyer by officers of the Guyana Police Force;Exemplary damages for the threat of the arrest of the Applicant on Tuesday the 25th day of October 2022, and for the arrest of the Applicant on Friday the 28th day of October 2022 for attempting to pervert the course of justice on the basis of the advice rendered the Applicant in her capacity as an Attorney at law andDamages in for the breach of Ms Clarke’s fundamental rights and freedoms as set out in article 40 of the Guyana Constitution. The suit is also asking for costs, interest and “such further or other order as the court may seem just.”
According to the document filed in the Supreme Court of Guyana on Friday, the suit outlined that on Tuesday 25th October 2022 the Ms Clarke was retained by a client who was the subject of a criminal investigation by Officers of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) of the Guyana Police Force.
She accompanied her client to the office of SOCU and informed Superintendent Ramana, an officer of the SOCU, in the presence of the client that she had advised her client to remain silent and not provide any statement to SOCU.
She said Officer Ramana informed her that if she prevented her client from giving a statement, she would be arrested. The Officer further informed her that “Counsel will need Counsel".
Miss Clarke returned to the SOCU's office on Thursday the 27th October 2022 upon the invitation of SOCU, however, she was requested to return to the SOCU office the next day, on the 28th October.
On Friday The 28th Ms Clarke said her client attended the SOCU office prior to her arrival and when she got there she engaged the officers of SOCU about the status of the investigation in relation to her client.
The attorney informed Constable Duke, an officer of the SOCU, that the advice which she had previously provided to the client that the client remain silent and not sign any statement was maintained and repeated.
The lawyer was then arrested by Officer Ramana for "obstruction" for preventing her client from giving a statement. She was then informed by officer Ramana that the applicant was under arrest for obstruction.
The attorney’s phone was seized by SOCU Officer Persaud who ‘snatched’ the phone from her and police officer Alder of SOCU thereafter demanded that the Applicant hand over her watch to the ranks at SOCU. The lawyer was prevented from utilizing her phone.
Ms Clarke attempted to leave the room in which she was detained and was prevented from doing so by Officers Singh and Persaud. Her Attorneys subsequently arrived at the SOCU office.
Upon inquiry by Attorney at law Nigel Hughes about the reason for the arrest and detention of the lawyer, he was informed that she was arrested for attempting to pervert the course of justice. She was thereafter released.