High Court to hear motion today on electoral fraud accused’ constitutional rights

– as defense seeks to strike down ROPA clause as unconstitutional

The election fraud court case rumbles on with a constitutional motion from the defense expected to come up before the High Court on Wednesday and further hearings in the matter scheduled to continue on May 7.
Last month, the Magistrate’s Court referred a request from the defense team for Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) minutes, to the High Court in light of “constitutional considerations”.

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes

Those constitutional considerations were whether parts of the Representation of the People’s Act (ROPA) clashed with the Constitution. A motion seeking to have Section 140 (2) of ROPA struck down as unconstitutional, has since been filed in the High Court.
The motion was filed by Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes, on behalf of electoral fraud-accused former GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and his former deputy Roxanne Myers. In a brief interview with the Guyana Times, Hughes explained the essence of what the motion is seeking to achieve.
“(The motion seeks) declarations that section 140 is unconstitutional. That’s the essence of it. And some consequential orders striking it down. That’s essentially what the application is for. One of the consequential orders is that it be declared as unconstitutional and consequentially, should be struck down,” Hughes said.
Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor and King’s Counsel Darshan Ramdhani explained to this publication that the substantive matters before the Magistrates Court are expected to continue next month.

Special Prosecutor and King’s Counsel Darshan Ramdhani

He explained that in light of the constitutional motion, the court had decided to postpone the April 2 hearing that was set last month. As such, the case will resume on May 7, 2024, at 10:00h in the Magistrates Court.
The defendants in the election fraud cases are former Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, his former deputy Roxanne Myers, former Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, former People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Chairperson Volda Lawrence; PNCR activist Carol Smith-Joseph, and GECOM employees Sheffern February, Enrique Livan, Denise Babb-Cummings, and Michelle Miller.
They are accused of several offences, including misconduct while holding public office, presenting falsified documentation, and planning to manipulate Guyana’s voters by presenting an inaccurate vote total.
These charges stemmed from attempts to rig the 2020 General and Regional Elections in favour of the then-ruling A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition. These accused persons are all out on cash bail.
Shortly after GECOM had announced the election results on August 2, 2020, charges were brought against the individuals in question. In August 2021, GECOM voted to terminate the employment of Lowenfield, Myers, and Mingo.
Last year, the prosecution had asked the Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards to assign a special court to hear the cases, to expedite them. Concerns regarding the unsatisfactory progress in these cases have been voiced by a number of persons, including Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC.
Meanwhile, the minutes sought by Hughes pertain to those taken before, during and after the tabulation process that followed the 2020 General and Regional Election at Ashmin’s Building. The request had been communicated to the prosecution in February and when the hearing was supposed to start, made known to the wider public.
When the matter came up before Daly again on March 6, she referred the matter to the High Court to determine whether Section 140 (2) of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) clashed with constitutional considerations pertaining to the right to a fair trial and the disclosure of the documents, which are in GECOM’s possession.
Section 140 (2) of ROPA states that “No evidence of any deliberations of the Elections Commission or communications between members of the Commission regarding its business shall be admissible in any court”. (G-3)