Guyana High Court releases Statements of Poll to Police, DPP for criminal probe
GEORGETOWN, May 28, 2021 - Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire has ruled that the Registrar of the Supreme Court must release copies of the Statements of Poll and Statements of Recount of the March 2 General and Regional Elections to the Commissioner of Police to assist in his criminal probe into alleged electoral fraud.
The request for the documents was made by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police Commissioner, as they continue to build a case against a number of Elections Officials who have been charged with electoral fraud.
The Chief Justice threw out a request by the Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield, who wanted to to join the Court matter on the basis that the Chief Elections Officer cannot be a party to block a request by the Police Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions for the High Court to produce the documents for the purpose of a criminal investigation.
She pointed out that “Although the legal custodian of the documents, the CEO does not have an interest such as to object to the court granting permission for such a release.” Lowenfield had contended that the documents ought to be released only as part of an election petition case and not a criminal matter.
Chief Justice George-Wiltshire said the police could have obtained a search warrant if Mr. Lowenfield had refused to turn over the documents. Further, the Judge said he would not have enjoyed the right to a hearing in the Magistrates’ Court. “
Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes who appeared for for Mr. Lowenfield, had contended that his client had a right to be heard because the Statements of Poll and Recount could only be legally released for an election petition.
But Ms George-Wiltshire said in her decision that, “the provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the National Validity of Elections Act, speaking as they do, to the custody and safekeeping of election documents and the challenge to the validity of an elections do not mean that these documents cannot be released to a law enforcement entities as part of their investigations or in support of criminal proceedings even where the CEO is also a defendant in criminal proceedings in relation to the elections.”
The Police Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions want the Registrar of the Supreme Court to release copies of the Statements of Poll and Recount so that they could be used as part of investigations into several charges related to alleged electoral fraud against the Chief Elections Officer, Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers and the Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.
Mr. Mingo faces four counts of misconduct in public office; Mr. Lowenfield three counts of misconduct in public office and three counts of forgery. Ms. Myers is accused of twice misconducting herself in public office.
Mr. Lowenfield is one of several senior and junior officers of the GECOM who are facing charges related to electoral fraud in the Magistrates’ Court.
The Supreme Court Registrar has within 10 days within which to photocopy and certify the Statements of Poll and Statements of Recount and as true copies before turning them over to the Police and the DPP.