Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, today visited the office where the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded project under the title “Support for the Criminal Justice System Program” is housed.
This is an US$8M project under the management of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
The Attorney General stated that he is pleased that such a project is ongoing in Guyana and expressed his unwavering support to it.
However, he expressed deep regret that since the commencement of the project in 2017, the public is not aware of its nature. Minister Nandlall further expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which the project is unfolding and that its impact is not being felt by the people of Guyana.
He reminded the staff that the project is funded by a loan that will eventually have to be repaid by the people of Guyana and therefore, in the end the ultimate beneficiaries of the project are the people of Guyana and that they must strive to ensure that the people reap maximum benefits from this project.
The main objective of the project is “to contribute to the reduction of high concentrations of prison population in Guyana”. The more specific objectives are to:
1. reduce the proportion of inmates who are pre-trial detainees and;
2. increase the use of alternative sentencing in the country.
The project also provides a legal aid service. The Attorney General expressed an intention to review the project documents to ensure that the project is being efficiently and effectively managed.
The Attorney General related that a Sentencing Policy is lacking in Guyana. However, Minister Nandlall stated that there are Sentencing Guidelines, which were drafted under a previous project but never implemented.
In this regard, the Attorney General tasked the team with reviewing and modifying those guidelines, if necessary, so as to avoid duplicity. He, further, stated that Guyana is in need of a Bail Act and one is already drafted at the Legislative Drafting Department of the Attorney General Chambers. He urged that this Act be reviewed and updated, if necessary, to avoid wastage of valuable resources.
Notably, the Attorney General expressed the need to have a legal aid programme be grounded on some form of statutory footing and must be nationally oriented and not confined only to Georgetown, as there are people in need of legal aid right across Guyana.