President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Justice Adrian Saunders has called on Guyana’s political directorates to urgently resolve their issues and appoint a substantive Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice, saying that this current impasse has implications for the proper running of the Guyana Courts.
Justice Saunders told reporters following a Private Sector interaction session at the Pegasus Hotel earlier today that the delay in the substantial appointments of the key judicial personnel is a matter of serious concern.
“Guyana has not had a chancellor for 13 years since Chancellor [Desiree] Bernard demitted office to become a judge of the CCJ. Since then there have been persons acting in that position… We are outsiders to Guyana’s political systems but we are entitled to express views we have that directly concerns the administration of justice. But ultimately it’s a matter for the Guyana Political Directorate and I just wish that steps be taken to resolve those issues,” the newly appointed CCJ President asserted.
President David Granger has nominated Justice Kenneth Benjamin and Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards for the substantive posts of Chancellor and Chief Justice respectively. However, following a meeting to discuss the appointments earlier this year, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo rejected the President’s nominees. Since then, there has not been any consensus between the two on the matter.
Article 127 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana states “The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.”
While being cognizant of current constitutional requirements, that is, consensus between the President and the Opposition Leader, in making such appointments, Justice Saunders posited that Guyanese authorities may want to revisit this procedure.
“That formula is likely to throw up this kind of situation and so perhaps some attention should be given to perhaps whether that is an appropriate formula or if the formula is to be kept, what other mechanisms should be put in place to break a deadlock. But for the country to not have a chancellor, and it has implications for the chief justice as well because it just cascades down for that length of time, it’s just not right,” he posited, while noting, however, that it is not his place to say what measures should be put in place to break the deadlock.
While the two leaders are expected to continue discussions on the nominations, the Guyana Bar Association (GBA) has called for the substantive appointments of acting Chancellor Justice Cummings-Edwards and acting Chief Justice, Justice Roxane George.