A US$30,000 prosecutors office was on Friday handed over to the Police department in New Amsterdam, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
The facility falls under the Criminal Justice System Support Project being rolled out by the Legal Affairs Ministry.
The building which is located in the compound of Central Police Station will be used as the Court Superintendent office.
Speaking at the commissioning on Friday, Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall explained that the Criminal Justice System Support Project seeks to ensure that Guyana has a criminal justice system which is modern and efficient which can deliver justice in a timely manner.
The project he explained has several components. However, he noted that a person’s right to justice is just as important as their right to health care and education.
“So important it the right to be protected by the law and to be afforded a justice system that ensures that your rights and freedoms are respected and protected,” Nandlall outlined.
Justice, he added, goes two ways even though many sections of society seemingly only push for the interest of the accused. Nandlall noted that crimes and wrongs are not only committed against the criminal victim, but also the State and the public good.
“The interest of the accused is very important and forms the fundamental upon which the criminal justice system rests but another polar is the rights of the victims or the rights of the State of the public’s interest in the administration of criminal justice.” He further outlined that while a defendant has a right to retain a lawyer of his/ her choice to ensure that he gets a fair trial and that his interest is protected, this is only one component of the criminal justice system.
“The other component is the victim’s interest, the State’s interest and the public good and it is the harmonious balance of those two interests that ensure that there is true delivery of criminal justice,” the Attorney General said.
Meanwhile, Regional Chairman David Armogan also speaking at the commissioning ceremony said many are disappointed at the kind of justice meted out for them. He noted that there have been many complaints from victims of crime who feel aggrieved.
“They feel aggrieved when these matters go to court and for a lack of evidence and poor prosecution services the matters are dismissed,” the chairman said, adding that this is not fair to those who suffer harm and injury.
“At the same time too, it is not fair to the person who might have committed the crime having to be incarcerated for years some times before the case is called,” he said, pointing out that this has resulted in prisons in Guyana being overcrowded.
Armogan noted that the State has the additional burden to use financial resources to keep persons incarcerated. “It puts a burden on the country’s finances which could have been otherwise used in other important services like health and education.”
The criminal justice system improvement project is being supported by foreign funding agencies and has the training of police officers as one of its components.
Meanwhile, Nandlall explained that persons who acquired a Bachelor of Law degree and who for whatever reason have not pursued the legal certificate in law will be invited into the police force where they will be trained in a prosecutorial program and have them join the prosecutorial ranks at the bar table at Magistrate Courts across the country.
Nandlall disclosed that close to 60 expressions of interest have been received from Bachelor of Law degree holders.
Currently, the Legal Affairs Ministry is trying to hire the services of a consultant to design the prosecutorial training program. Arrangements are already being made with the University of Guyana.