The media has reported that the Hon Justice Franklin Holder, in a letter has stated that Guyana’s attorney general and PNC party chairman, Basil Williams, has shown disrespect in the judge’s courtroom during a matter heard on March 23, 2017.
Admonished by the judge, the attorney general responded as follows: “I could say what I want to say and when I want to say it. I have always been like that,” causing the judge to leave the courtroom (see letter by Hon. Justice Franklin Holder to Hon. Chancellor (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards, dated March 24, 2017).
The justice went on to note that the attorney general made an incorrect statement about Mr Anil Nandalall, and that he found the attorney general’s tone and/or behavior to be “truculent” (that is, confrontational), “highly contemptuous,” and “insulting, disgraceful and calculated to scandalise and lower the authority of the Court in the face of the Court.”
One is tempted to argue that Mr Williams’ behavior is an attribute of Guyana’s corrupt body politic.
However, it ascends further not only a threat to the judiciary but a danger to democracy, in that the attorney general’s behavior embodies a steadied mindset of being untouchable. A law onto himself.
As the judge noted, this behavior was “calculated” to reduce the Court’s authority. One recalls the past (despite the new narrative of a new PNC) when the PNC flag was flown at the Court of Appeal building to show who had jurisdiction and who did not.
Criticize the attorney general but what has occurred is the inevitable result of a national culture including the judiciary that has largely ignored PNC attitudes over the past 20-plus years.
These attitudes were repackaged as a celebrated vision in documents such as the Declaration of Vreed-en-Hoop, implying that the PNC did no wrong in the past, and can do no wrong in the present. Nothing has changed. Thus the supposed comment: “I have always been like that.”