A.G. to pursue application for the staying of NOC order By George Barclay
Guyana Chronicle
June 18, 2004

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THE hearing of the Constitutional motion brought by Attorney General Mr. Doodnauth Singh, S.C., continues this afternoon before the Constitutional Court presided over by Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards.

At today's hearing, the A.G. will continue to press for the declaration that the judge's decision to order that 13-year-old Bibi Natalia Hamid to the New Opportunity Corps, Underneeming, Essequibo, for protection, is unconstitutional, null and void.

When the matter was first heard before Justice Cummings-Edwards Wednesday, the Attorney General told the judge that as the legal guardian of the Guyana Constitution he could not sit idly by and see the Constitution being contravened without doing his best to have the matter remedied.

According to him, the contravention came about when Justice Roy, who was responsible for selecting a proper home and/or orphanage to accommodate 13-year-old Bibi Natalia Hamid, (who was the subject of a Habeas Corpus case brought by her mother Bibi Shameeza Hamid), decided to send the girl to the New Opportunity Corps, an institution which accommodates young offenders, and young persons who have been found guilty by the Courts for one type of offence or another.

In his affidavit in support of the motion before the Court, the Attorney General had said, "I made submissions that the Honourable Court to the effect that there was no jurisdiction to send the child Bibi Natalia Hamid to the New Opportunity Corps in addition to the fact that no proper facilities are available for the said child and suggested alternative homes namely the Genesis Home and the Shaheed Girls Orphanage in which the child may be placed.

"Further, it was submitted that even though the Honourable Court stated that the child was not sentenced to the institution, the Court has a duty to consider the stigma that would be attached to the child if she were sent to the institution. The Honourable Court was adjourned to consider the suggested alternatives to the 11th day of June 2004.

"That on the 11th day of June, 2004 Mr. Nigel Hughes attorney-at-law for the applicant submitted that the Honourable Court has jurisdiction and power to send the child to the New Opportunity Corps. I reiterated my submissions that the Honourable Court had no jurisdiction in sending the said child to such an institution, and despite this, the Honourable Mr. Justice B. S. Roy ordered inter alia that the said child Bibi Natalia Hamid be placed at the New Opportunity Corps until a related contempt motion arising out of the said habeas corpus proceedings had been heard and determined, and fixed the matter for report on the 25th day of June 2004," Mr. Singh had said.

The A.G. added, "In addition to the Genesis Home and the Shaheed Girls Orphanage that I suggested as alternatives to the New Opportunity Corps, I am informed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Human Services and I do verily believe that the said Ministry officially recognises several other institutions that may be considered to send the child Bibi Natalia Hamid.

"These are Abundant Life, Alpha Children's Home, Berbice Anjuman Orphanage, Bethel Boys Home, Bright Horizon Home, Camal Home, Canaan Children's Home, Hauruni Children's Home, Hope Children's Home, Joshua Children's Center, Mahaica Children's Home, Red Cross Convalescent Home, St. Ann's Girls Orphanage, Help and Shelter and The Zabeeda's Female Home among others."

The Attorney General went on to say in his affidavit that the attorney -at-law for the child Bibi Natalia Hamid was not allowed to make representations on her behalf, in breach of the said child's constitutional right to due process, throughout the proceedings even though certain allegations were made by the said child.

On the other hand, Bibi Shameeza Hamid, the mother of the girl whose affidavit gave the impression that she is satisfied with the arrangements made to send her daughter to NOC for protection, said that she is the sole guardian of her child and not the Attorney General.

In her affidavit before Justice Cummings-Edwards, Bibi Shameeza Hamid, who is represented by Mr. Nigel Hughes and a team of lawyers, said, "The said application by the Attorney General touches and concerns the welfare of my daughter Bibi Natalia Hamid over whom I have sole custody.

"I have never authorised nor invited the Attorney General to act on my behalf or that of my daughter Bibi Natalia Hamid.

"I am advised by my attorney-at-law and verily believe that Bibi Natalia Hamid, my daughter and an infant was not a party to the Habeas Corpus proceedings in motion No. 71-M of 2004, which I commenced to secure the custody of my daughter from Reeaz Khan and Minister Bibi Shadick.

"That I am advised by my Attorney and verily believe that my daughter Bibi Natalia Hamid, the infant, was never a party to any action before any Court or any tribunal prescribed by law for the determination of the existence or extent of any civil right or obligation established by law as contemplated by the provision of Article 144 (8) as alleged by the Honourable Attorney General or at all.

"My daughter Bibi Natalia Hamid was the subject of the Habeas Corpus application and not a party to the said application. The Attorney General has no locus standi to apply for any order touching and concerning my daughter Bibi Natalia Hamid

"Reeaz Khan is a serving and influential member of the Muslim community and I believe that if my daughter was placed at the aforementioned orphanage, he would have access to her.

"I fear that if the orders prayed for in the Notice of Motion of the Honourable Attorney General are granted my daughter Bibi Natalia Hamid will be placed at an institution at which Reeaz Khan may have access to her in breach of the order of the Honourable Mr. Justice B.S. Roy," applicant Bibi Shameeza Hamid said.