Correction and apology
June 10, 2004
Stabroek News has been carrying the story of the businessman, the 13-year-old child and her mother, and reporting the comments of local organisations concerned with the issue as well as the proceedings in the high court before Mr Justice Roy. We believe we have a duty to set the record straight where either by commission or omission the facts have been misrepresented in our pages.
Last Saturday, June 5, 2004 we carried a story on page 3 on the proceedings in Mr Justice Roy's court on Friday, June 4 concerning the matter. We reported that the court convened several minutes past the scheduled time at 11.30 am without stating why. We also carried a statement by an official of the Guyana Human Rights Association critical of the court proceedings.
That story was unfair to the court.
The fact was that, having completed over thirty divorces and twenty-one decree absolutes for the morning together with hearing arguments in the Mark Benschop case and dealing with three other matters, Mr Justice Roy retired at 11.20 am to his chambers and came back out into open court at 11.30 am. He then quickly dealt with two other matters in about ten minutes and at about 11.40 am called the matter concerning the application of Mrs Hamid.
The Judge heard submissions by Mr Robin Stoby, holding brief for Mr Nigel Hughes, and a report by Mr Paul Slowe, Commander `A' Division, Guyana Police Force, concerning the fact that the whereabouts of the child were unknown at the time.
Realising that the location of the child was the primary consideration and that any police attempts to find her were of a sensitive nature, Mr Justice Roy adjourned the matter into his chambers to speak further with Commander Slowe and representatives of rights organizations present in court. He discussed with Mr Slowe the urgency of finding the child without alerting other persons and asked for and obtained the assurances of the rights organizations that they would exercise discretion in the matter. He then adjourned the matter to open court for Monday, June 7.
We understand that Mr Justice Roy went further. He invited a senior and a junior female member of the Bar to assist the court in respect of what could be done if and when the child was found and produced in court in respect of arrangements concerning her security and welfare. The junior member of the Bar is an active member of the Guyana Human Rights Association. They were both of considerable assistance in the matter.
The child having been produced in court on Monday, June 7, 2004, Mr Justice Roy then proceeded to make the necessary orders for her security and protection.
We appreciate that our story could have been construed as an attack on the capacity of the court to deal with the matter. We realise that Mr Justice Roy has in fact acted with discretion and energy, but within the law to protect the child. We apologise to him for any embarrassment that may have been caused by our story.