The DPP in Guyana operates without oversight, respect or regard for international norms when exercising her discretion and making decisions to prosecute.
The following cases reminds us how easily the DPP’s powers have been and can be abused causing innocent persons to be incarcerated in cases where they are charged with non-bailable offences, or in the case of bailable offences, when they are charged and there is no evidence to support the charge or no reasonable prospect of a conviction.
1. Not so long ago the DPP advised the police to charge Mark Benshcop with the offence of treason, a non-bailable offence. There was no evidence to support the charge. He was not granted bail and was incarcerated for over 5 years on a charge advised by the DPP. Benschop’s unlawful incarceration of five years only came to an end after a charade by President Jagdeo of granting Benschop a pardon.
2. It was part of Government’s plan to keep Benschop locked up for as long as possible without trial by delaying his trial. The now minister Manickchand ,who is now “worried about the implications of Justice Chang’s ruling on other prosecutions.” (S.N. 4.4.12) was the same Manickchand as lawyer who, with the blessing of the DPP and the Government, made an application to deprive Benschop of an early trial on moral ground that the trial of an accused person committed by the Magistrate must take place in chronological order from the date of his committal by the Magistrate, even if the accused is charged with a non-bailable offence. Strange enough Manickchand obtained an Order from Justice Jainarayan Singh who granted the application and Benschop remained in prison. Jagdeo appointed Manickchand a Minister. But Justice Singh’s order was later set aside by the Court of Appeal.
3. More recently, the DPP advised the Police to charge Bruce Munroe, Carol Munroe and Leonard Wharton with the offence of Treason, a non-bailable offence. They were therefore incarcerated on the bogus charge without bail. The evidence never supported the charge of treason and their unlawful incarceration came to an end only when the Magistrate discharged them at the Preliminary Inquiry. Their unlawful incarceration lasted for more than two years.
4. In May 2010, the DPP advised the Police to institute charges against Maurice Smith and Roderick Peterkin for conspiracy to traffic in narcotics, contrary to the Narcotic Substances Act. They applied to the High Court before the charges were laid against them for prerogative writs of certiorari to quash the DPP’s said decision:
After hearing arguments for Smith and Peterkin and for the DPP, the Court quashed the DPP’s decision advising charges against Smith and Peterkin and ordered that the police should not proceed with the said charges against Smith and Peterkin.
5. In 2007 the DPP advised the police to charge Maurice Arjune, a Manager of NBS, and four other employees of the New Building Society (NBS), with the offence of conspiracy to defraud. The evidence did not support the charge filed against the five accused. The case was dismissed.
However, as a result of the charge against them, the accused were dismissed from their jobs after five years and are now seeking damages for their malicious prosecution.
6. In 2011 the DPP advised the police to charge the Registrar of the High Court and a former Chief of Staff with forgery and conspiracy to commit forgery. There again the Magistrate found that there was no evidence on which to commit the defendants. Case dismissed.
The moral from the above cases is that innocent persons were unlawfully incarcerated and suffered unjustly because of the advice of the DPP to the police to prosecute them. These are only the cases which have come to light.