13-year-old’s posting to New Opportunity Corps--
Hearing of A.G.’s challenge commences today
By George Barclay
June 17, 2004
ATTORNEY General Mr. Doodnauth Singh, Senior Counsel (SC) yesterday urged Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards of the Constitutional Court to find that there was contravention of the constitutional right of 13-year-old Bibi Natalia Hamid, when she was sent by Justice B.S. Roy to the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) without being a convict or a ‘bad girl’ of the society.
Attorney-at-law, Mr. Nigel Hughes, who heads a team of lawyers for the girl’s mother, Ms Bibi Shameeza Hamid, who brought the habeas corpus proceedings for the production of the girl in Court, submitted that the judge had sent the girl to the NOC for protection and that he had the authority under the law to do so – a submission which the Attorney General refuted.
Mr Hughes further said the mother of the girl was the sole person entitled to lawful custody of her daughter, who is in the protective custody of the Court.
Hughes also produced an affidavit of the woman in which she revealed that she was present when the judge ordered that her daughter be kept at the New Opportunity Corps at Onderneeming, Essequibo, and had ordered that Ms Lisa Thompson, a qualified Social Worker, interview and confer with Bibi Natalia Hamid and family for the purposes of submitting a report to the Court on the state of the relationship between Bibi Natalia Hamid and mother as well as recommendations for the future improvement of the said relationship.
Counsel for the mother submitted to the judge that the motion filed by the Attorney General seeking a conservatory order staying the execution of the order of the Honourable Mr. Justice B.S. Roy dated 11th day of June, 2004, in the matter of an application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Ad Subjiciendum as well as a declaration that the order of the judge was unconstitutional, null and void; was misconceived and not sustainable at law.
Mr. Hughes also made an application to Justice Cummings-Edwards to the effect that Bibi Shameeza Hamid be made a party in the proceedings and that the Honourable Court make such further order as it may deem just.
Reacting to a submission by Mr. Hughes that Rules of Court supported Justice Roy’s action in sending the girl to NOC for protection, the Attorney General said that he would submit a Privy Council’s decision on the point which would show that in a Constitutional matter, Rules of Court are not considered and that the Constitution should be taken as read.
Reacting to charges from Mr. Hughes that Mr. Singh’s intervention was unnecessary, the Attorney General pointed out that he was the legal guardian of the Constitution and the Judiciary, and that whenever the Constitution is contravened it was his duty to have same corrected.
The Attorney General made it clear that he would not be replying to anything said by Mr. Hughes in his affidavit, since he (Mr. Hughes) had no locus standi (no ground to stand on) in the Constitutional motion before the Court.
The Attorney General referred to a number of homes to which the child could have been sent instead of her being sent to the infamous New Opportunity Corps for protection, as the judge had done.
Before adjourning the matter to Friday at 1 p.m., the judge declared that she would send out notices to those concerned, including Justice B.S. Roy.