Reeaz Khan/Teen saga continues

Teen turns up in courts, lands in police custody
Files petition to marry Khan
Private criminal abduction, contempt proceedings filed against businessman
Judge slams Mc Cormack
Stabroek News reporters summoned to Judge’s Chambers

Kaieteur News

June 8, 2004

Related Links: Articles on abducted 13 year old
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The 13-year-old embroiled in the saga with city businessman Reeaz Khan turned up in court yesterday even as Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes filed private criminal abduction and contempt proceedings against Khan.

Hughes filed the proceedings on behalf of the teen’s mother, Bibi Shameeza Hamid.

As of yesterday, the teen has been placed under police protection awaiting a response from the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) which has been asked to provide information regarding its security structure. Based on the information to be furnished by the NOC on Thursday, the court will decide on its next course of action regarding the teen.

Hughes told the court that he had received reports that the girl, who went missing two Saturdays ago, was taken out of the jurisdiction. As a result, Hughes sought the assistance of local police and Trinidad’s Interpol to locate the girl. According to Hughes, Interpol promised yesterday morning that it would investigate the matter. Hughes said that to his surprise, however, he observed the teen entering the court at about 14:45 hours yesterday.

Hughes told the court that the teen has filed a petition to be married to Khan. The petition was served on his Chambers yesterday.

The Attorney pointed out that the petition was filed by a child without the consent of a parent, guardian or the court. This action therefore borders on contempt, he said, since a 13-year-old has no authority to petition the court.

He said that according to paragraph 39 of the petition, the teen said she has no option but to pursue a marriage with Khan. She further stated in paragraph 54 that the petition was being made because of the anguish she was experiencing due to her separation from Khan.

But Hughes said that if the teen feels tortured, abused or otherwise badly treated, the appropriate authorities should have been approached. The girl could have also filed for an amendment, variation or a recall of the high court order passed on May 20 which gives joint custody to her mother or aunt.

“It is sad that the child could have received advice to petition for marriage rather than [for] a petition to recall, amend or vary the previous order.

“The filing of this petition by this 13-year-old amounts to violation and contempt in the face of the court,” he said, adding that the minor could not access financial resources nor does she have the legal authority to petition the court. Hughes said he finds it disturbing that she was ill-advised. The Attorney-at-Law said he believes the girl fully understands the gravity of the situation since the ramifications of breaching the court order were explained to her in chambers previously. A high court order on May 20, based on a writ of habeas corpus blocked Khan from communicating with the girl and from being in her presence.

Hughes asked the Judge to deal with the girl in camera.

The Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security had placed the teen under the protection of the Mahaica Children’s Home on May 6. However, Hamid had alleged that Khan had abducted the girl and filed a habeas corpus against Minister Bibi Shadick and the businessman. The Minister has since filed an affidavit in answer. Yesterday, Hughes filed an affidavit in reply on behalf of Hamid in response to several issues raised by Minister Shadick.

Hughes stressed that the fact that the teen was able to leave the Mahaica Children’s Home was a gross dereliction of duty by employees of the institution. He petitioned the court for the order nisi to be made absolute.

Explaining why he filed contempt proceedings, Hughes said that at 13:30 hrs on May 21, one day after the court order was issued, Khan allegedly went to the home of the girl’s aunt and took possession of the teen. Hughes explained that on the same day, Hamid received a call at about 10:30hrs, informing her that the teen had been hospitalised. The caller told the woman to collect the girl.

Hughes added that Khan and the teen were seen that same evening in various hospitals together even though he had been ordered to stay away from her. Hughes added that several persons observed Khan in the company of the girl and her mother.

Trial Judge B.S. Roy however said he would describe Khan’s alleged actions as disobedience rather than contempt of the court order.

Hughes told the court that the negligence on the part of Minister Shadick to contact Hamid after the girl had left the Mahaica Children’s Home points to a purported collaboration between the businessman and the Minister.

Attorney-at-law representing the Ministry of Human Services, Naresh Hardinand, in response to Hughes, noted that Hamid was presented with several options before the child was placed in the children’s home. He added that she approved of the Mahaica institution.

Hardinand said that the occurrences that transpired during the period when the girl left the Home and her appearance in court on May 20, did not concern the Ministry which therefore did not intervene.

Hughes also petitioned the court for an order to be made for the girl to remain within the jurisdiction and suggested that the child’s passport be confiscated by the court or given to the mother to impair the girl’s ability to travel.

Meanwhile, the Judge repeated his calls to the media to report on the sensitive issue accurately and fairly. Justice Roy said he is very aggrieved with a report published in a section of the media on Saturday and in which Co-President of the Guyana Human Rights Association, Mike Mc Cormack implied that Judge Roy conducted the last proceedings in an odd manner.

Justice Roy declared that he has the sole authority to decide on how court matters are conducted in his courtroom. Noting that the media appears to have become a “free-for-all,” the Judge promised that he would deal with the errant media houses. He added that some media houses are operating on a self-interest basis, rather than in the interest of the teen. The judge noted that the media houses seem to think they have the right to publish whatever they want. “…I too have rights and I will deal with this matter very sternly. All I ask is that you report accurately in this very sensitive issue.” Two Stabroek News reporters were subsequently summoned to the Judge’s chambers.

After the lawyers’ submission, the trial judge invited

the teen, her relatives, representatives from the police force, Human Service Ministry, and the respective lawyers for discussion.

The matter has been adjourned to Thursday. Last week, Justice Roy had defused allegations that the high court was conducting criminal proceedings against Khan.

Meanwhile, a small group continued to protest outside the court regarding the age of consent, yesterday.

President Jagdeo has since promised to raise the age of consent.