Judge Ceaineh Clinton Johnson has admitted releasing on bail two Lebanese rape convicts and two others suspected of the same crime, despite media reports putting the number higher.Rape is a non-bailable offense under the new law, but Judge Johnson, who is one of the few female judges in the country, yesterday defended her decision, blaming it on the Liberian government.According to her, the prosecution informed her that government was not interested in continuing with the cases.A Lebanese national Jaafar Bashir, 44, who was charged for raping young Liberian children within the age range of 7 and 15, was released on a US$25,000 bail by Judge Johnson.Another Lebanese, Ali Saksouk, 21, was accused of raping a 13-year old child, but he was also released on bail by Judge Johnson.Two Lebanese rape convicts, Anthony Kassabli and his father, Dib Edmond Kassabli were convicted of gang rape, but also released by Judge Johnson on bail. Anthony was released for health reasons, while his father was given executive clemency by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.However, in her charge to lawyers, judges, prospective jury and party litigants yesterday at the August 2015 opening of Criminal Courts A, B, C, D and E, Judge Johnson in a strongly worded statement said, “the press published that Lebanese nationals were the only ones who were granted bail in Court ‘E,’ but from the records of the court, out of the forty-two bails granted, only three were Lebanese nationals.”Criminal Court ‘E’ is solely responsible to hear and decide rape cases.Judge Johnson clarified that the three Lebanese were freed based upon a state application to ‘nolle prosequi’ (to waive the case), “but the news was that the court was just freeing criminals.”‘Nolle prosequi’ is an admission made by prosecution that they cannot prove the charges against the defendants, because available evidence demonstrates that an accused is innocent.The declaration can be made either before or after the start of a trial, meaning the case against the defendant will then be dropped.Further, in her charge Judge Johnson said the Criminal Court E’s decision was also based on what she considered as “change of venue.”“When a change of venue was requested and granted, newspapers reported that they will be watching the judge, who transferred the case. If they were to verify the news they would have presented the truth to the general public on the case,” she averred.She also used the occasion to advise media institutions, saying, “We know that we now have the Freedom of Information Act, but the dignity of the court will, and must at all times be respected. Any reporting that has the tendency to compromise any side of a case is prejudicial to the safety of our land.”Judge Johnson continued, “We expect you to carefully check your information, balance and or verify them from the court before reporting to the general public.”Throughout her deliberation, the female Judge did not mention the name of a particular media institution.Cautioning lawyers earlier, Judge Johnson said they, too, have a responsibility to ensure that respect is given to the courts; therefore, they should avoid unjust causes of unmeritorious reporting.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Despite criticismsNotwithstanding criticisms of the initiative, infrastructure that would allow for electronic payments under the new National Payment System are being put in place.This was expounded upon at a press conference at the Finance Ministry on Friday, where Bank of Guyana Governor Dr Gobind Ganga laid out his expectations for the project. It was pointed out by Ganga that the project was originally of a four-year duration.“The system is being put in place. This is a four-year project, but we’re hoping to complete this project in two years, and people start benefit,” Ganga, who was speaking on the sidelines of another Finance Ministry event, explained.The Governor explained that while there was an old payment system administered by the bank, it was an ineffective one. He expressed expectations that the new one being implemented would conform to international standards.“We had a payment system under the Bank of Guyana, but we didn’t have the power to ensure there could be electronic payments, digital signatures, etc. This Act recognises all of that, and makes it legal. For example, we will have more bank-to-bank transactions rather than the use of cheques. We will also reduce cash payments as we move forward. That is not to say that there is going to be an elimination of cash; cash will still be used, but we will be providing the infrastructure for electronic payments, and that will ensure that we have much more efficiency,” Ganga explained.“For example, if the Ministry of Finance has to pay vendors out there, instead of the vendor coming to the Ministry of Finance to collect a cheque, that payment will be done directly into his bank account. That will enhance transparency and good governance,” Ganga explained.PassageAn important bill in principle, much contention nevertheless attended the National Payment System Bill when it was passed earlier this month. Criticism had included concerns over the Bank of Guyana’s role as a regulator, and whether it had too much power.For instance, former Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Juan Edghill, had expressed concern over Clause 18 (2) of the bill, which allows the regulator to enter the premises of someone suspected of operating without a licence and carry out searches. Edghill urged the inclusion of stipulations that such searches can be carried out only after a warrant has been obtained.His successor in Government, Minister Jaipaul Sharma, had defended the bill in his presentation. For instance, Sharma noted that the Central Bank cannot revoke licences in a “willy-nilly” manner, but persons with grievances would instead be given time to defend their licences.Besides urging that the general public be educated about the new system, none of the Opposition entreaties found sympathetic ears on the Government side.The bill was eventually passed without any amendment.A National Payment System (NPS) is an infrastructure that provides the economy with information communication technology (ICT) options for processing payments resulting from the many different types of economic transactions that take place daily. In other words, this includes e-payments, credit cards, and wire transfers.The Bank of Guyana (BoG) has been tasked with leading the development and implementing a strategic approach to advancing the development of Guyana’s NPS by establishing the parameters to guide policy and set priorities.
BSkyB has launched its planned Sky Store ‘Buy & Keep’ service, allowing users to buy as well as rent movies.Buy & Keep provides the ability to purchase digital copies of HD movies along with the original DVD sent by post.The service offers brand new movies at the same time as their DVD release, with many titles available for digital early release, according to Sky.Sky unveiled details of the service at the beginning of the month.Titles at launch include Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Ben Stiller comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, family animation Turbo and Richard Curtis romantic comedy About Time, as well as other titles from 20th Century Fox and NBCUniversal.Forthcoming titles include The Wolf of Wall Street, Mandela and Lone Survivor.The service will be further enhanced over the next year with customers being able to access the movies they’ve bought via tablets and smartphones, according to Sky. In the future, TV box sets will be available to buy and Sky Store Buy & Keep will become accessible to non-Sky subscribers with the Now TV Box, Roku and YouView boxes as well as via the Sky Store website.“Buying movies straight from your sofa becomes even easier with Sky Store from today. Our customers love to watch their favourite movies again and again, and with ‘Buy & Keep’ they get the benefit of being able to watch in minutes with the HD digital download, as well as receiving the original DVD in the post,” said Nicola Bamford, director of Sky Store.