CJ Chang is Being Unfairly Vilified

Much has been said and much more will probably be said about Justice Ian Chang’s ruling in the Commissioner Green rape case. What is rather sad about the outpouring (with one or two exceptions) is that it indicates that Guyana has reached a stage where every action is analyzed through the prisms of race and politics so that regardless of the merits or demerits, the invariable conclusion is that if you’re not against them, then you’re for them. Mr. Editor, what makes this problematic all the more blatant is that right minded people, those who know better, “the few good persons” that Nelson Mandela referenced in relation to his nation, but that must exist in every nation, have all but become silent. Case in point: Khemraj Ramjattan and Ian Chang go way back. I was introduced to a very young, Ian Chang by Khemraj, more than a quarter of a century ago, when the former visited the latter’s home and that introduction encapsulated glowing references to Chang. Over the ensuing years, I have heard through numerous sources, about the professionalism and sense of fairness of the current Chief Justice. Until a certain megalomania opened his mouth, no one had ever criticized Ian Chang and even though that narcissist character received no public support for his criticism, he has now taken the opportunity to gloat because so many have come down on Ian Chang for simply doing his job the way he has always done it: with professionalism and a sense of legal fairness. And Khemraj Ramjattan, a close friend of Justice Chang and a lawyer, who is probably in a great position to understand all the ramifications of the ruling, has been silent. Is this because he feels that it would not be politically favorably for him to support the ruling? Has his politics so saturated him that he will allow a good man and a long-standing friend to be unfairly roasted and he will keep his mouth shut? The Ramjattan I know, the friend of whom I have always been proud and admiring, would not have been quiet! How is this indicative of a new politics?
Mr. Editor, the simple fact remains that Chief Justice’s ruling was good in law. Yet those who are opposed to the powers that be, have refused to acknowledge this reality and instead, have raked/are raking Mr. Chang over the coals because he did not find the way they wanted him to find. And so, we have now reached a stage where good men and women are being character assassinated and derogated for doing their job in a professional manner. But even more puzzling has been the reaction of women activists and leaders. Surely these individuals who are engaged in an uphill battle to address the wrongs of society as they relate to women, should know that such redress cannot be well served by their criticisms of judgments that are good in law. And, significantly, to date none of the critics have indicated with any degree of justification that the ruling was bad in law.
The entire issue is quite murky and would seem to boil down to ‘he say/she say’ but those who are so convinced that the virtual complainant does have a case can surely file their own private suit. Besides is the case is appealable? I’m sure that every Tammy, Damon, Priyanka and Beharry who feel that the Chief Justice erred would put their money where their mouth is and contribute financially to ensure the success of the case.
Mr. Editor, perhaps the most mind boggling reaction however was the response of Minister Priya Manikchand. As a cabinet member she should never have commented on the judgment, unless it was to state that she and/or the gov’t is studying the ruling and would put out an appropriate response as soon as possible. So one has to wonder was the goodly minister merely attempting to shore up her flagging image? Was she trying to score points with women’s activists and civil society leaders? Did she actually study the ruling and seek the opinion of fellow lawyers? Is she au fait with all the evidence and all the law as it relates to the case? As a lawyer surely she should know, more than most, that any comment made about the judgment should have focused on its merits or otherwise in law.
Mr. Editor, let me hasten to add that I hold no brief for Commissioner Green and I add my voice to the many who have called for his resignation, simply because he no longer has the moral and ethical requirements for the job. But the character of the Commissioner and the stupidity of his actions, have nothing to do with a judgment, good in law, and should not be reason for a good and decent man to be unfairly ‘cussed out’. To Justice Chang, be comfortable in the content of your character and do not allow the those barking at shadows to force you out. Guyana needs you now more than ever.

About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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