With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Judiciary of Guyana in collaboration with the Executive launched 14 virtual courtrooms at the Lusignan Prison on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).
The intention is to provide speedy trials for prisoners in spite of the pandemic.
The virtual courtrooms are retrofitted containers which will be placed at the various prisons across the country. Specifically, 14 containers will be stationed at the Lusignan Prison while four will be at Camp Street, eight at New Amsterdam, three at Mazaruni, and four at Timehri.
Chief Justice Roxane George said the launching of the retrofitted container courtroom is a historic development in the administration of justice in Guyana. She said that from the inception, when the idea of retrofitting containers was touted – following the steps of the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago – the Irfaan Ali-led administration was very receptive.
It immediately provided the necessary resources so that the project could have immediately commenced.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall related that Government was pleased to collaborate with the Judiciary for this project.
“This measure will bring relief to the prison population which often agitates and protests delays in the courtroom. It will also alleviate the great costs associated with the transportation of prisoners from prison location to magistrates’ courts across the country. It will bring great speed to the criminal justice system. It will protect the magistrate, the prisoner, the police and the court staff from bring exposed unnecessarily to the deadly Covid-19 virus,” he said.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn who also attended the launching of the initiative.