Arrest, detention of Williams unlawful from facts alleged
- Women lawyers body
Stabroek News
July 22, 2002

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The Guyana Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL) say that from the facts alleged, the recent arrest and detention of attorney-at-law Basil Williams was unlawful since he appears to have never been told the reason for his arrest.

“This is a clear breach of one of the main principles on the issue of the right of the police to arrest anyone,” the GAWL stated in a release.

Expressing its deep concern at the arrest of the lawyer, the GAWL said that members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) must appreciate that while they have a duty to investigate crime diligently, and they have the support of the association in doing so, they must respect the constitutional rights of citizens to retain and speak to counsel of their choice.

“It should be noted,” the GAWL pointed out, “that any communication between counsel and client is privileged and cannot be enquired into.” Further, the association said it wished to “remind members of the Force that the Judges’ Rules, by which they are bound, stipulate that a suspect has the right to have a lawyer, friend or relative present when giving a statement or being questioned by the police.”

The release said also that the association had noted the recent meeting of the acting Commissoner of Police with the Guyana Bar Association, and the reported fruitful discussions that were held.

In that light, the GAWL expressed the hope that the incident would not have “irreparably damaged the engagement begun at this meeting,” and called on the Force to clarify its position as regards its relationship with the Bar with some degree of urgency.

Williams was arrested by the police after visiting a client at the Georgetown Hospital.