STATEMENT BY THE BAR COUNCIL OF THE BAR ASSOCIATION OF GUYANA ON REPORTED RECENT STATEMENTS OF MR. AUBREY HEATH-RETEMYER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF ‘SARA’24th July 2018
The Kaieteur News edition of July 22, 2018 published an article titled ‘Judiciary needs urgent training to understand the seriousness of SOCU’s work – SARA Director’ and therein attributed certain statements to Mr. Aubrey Heath-Retemyer, Deputy Director of the State Assets Recovery Agency (“SARA”) which the Bar Council of the Bar Association of Guyana condemns.
In particular, the article indicates that SARA is paying close attention to the manner in which the Special Organised Crime Unit (“SOCU”) is being treated by the Judiciary. This statement can be construed as a threat to the individual members of Judiciary who refuse orders sought by SARA, which is most alarming and of grave concern.
Mr. Heath-Retemyer is also said to express the desire that Guyana were more like Brazil or Argentina where he says, “the legal people are more inclined to see justice prevail rather than apply the law”. This can also be taken as an attempt to direct the working and functioning of the Judiciary.
These comments were obviously made in ignorance of the contents of Article 122.A(1) of the Constitution which provides that:
All courts and persons presiding over the courts shall exercise their functions independently of the control and direction of any other person or authority; and shall be free and independent from political, executive and any other form of direction and control.
As the Deputy Director of an important agency of the Executive, Mr. Heath-Retemyer is obliged to avoid any action, including the making of public comments, which can be taken as an attempt to direct the working and functioning of the Judiciary.
Mr. Heath-Retemyer, it is reported, also indicated that the Judiciary needs training (presumably by the Executive) to ensure that the work of SARA and SOCU gets done.
In Guyana, as Mr. Heath-Retemyer should be aware, justice is done when the Judiciary applies principles of law to evidence proved in Court.
Since the Judiciary does not exist to do the bidding of the Executive, the rights of Guyanese citizens and the application of the rule of law take precedence over the granting of remedies in a speedy manner to the liking of the Executive.
Any insinuation that the Judiciary is somehow lacking in knowledge is unjustified, without merit and could dangerously shake the confidence of the public in the ability of the Judiciary.
Guyana is a democracy where the law is applied by an independent and impartial Judiciary whose function includes restraining unlawful excesses by the Executive, including Mr. Heath-Retemyer and SARA/SOCU. If that agency is not satisfied with the legal requirements in discharge of its functions, then the Bar Association assures the public that the fault does not lie with the Judiciary and/or its training.
There is no place for comments like those made by Mr. Heath-Retemyer as reported. His comments should equally be condemned by the Government for not being its view of the Judiciary and by the citizens of Guyana as being an unjustified attack by an agent of the Executive on the independence of the Judiciary and in violation of the principle of separation of powers.
Since the Judiciary cannot defend itself and is unlikely to comment on the issue, Mr. Heath-Retemyer should immediately issue an unconditional retraction, apology and refrain from making any similar statement in future. The Bar Council has every confidence in the ability of the Judiciary and will at all times stand guard and rebuff such attacks.