Initiative launched to build public trust & confidence in local judicial system

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George

The Judiciary of Guyana on Wednesday launched a public education and engagement programme aimed at building trust and confidence in the local judicial system.

Another objective of the initiative is to assure the citizenry that the wheels of justice are turning despite the COVID-19 crisis which has in many ways affected the functioning of the judiciary.

Delivering remarks at the virtual launching ceremony was Chief Justice Roxane George who revealed that just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Judiciary, the Guyana Bar Association, and the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers and Canada-sponsored Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project, Project Coordinator and Communication Specialist Allison Ali were working together in a public education and engaging working group.

She said that the working group along with a consulting firm hired by JURIST was in the process of developing public education campaigns designed to build public trust and confidence in the judiciary. The Chief Justice, however, noted that COVID-19 has reordered the judiciary’s communication strategy.

In light of this, she added that the judiciary commenced a campaign titled “we can still here you”.

“This campaign helped us to assure citizens that despite the pandemic, the judicial system continued to function and there was access to justice as their matters could still be heard. This campaign featured judicial officers delivering messages on social media and radio. This opened up a new dimension in our relationship with the citizenry by having leaders in the judiciary speak directly to the public about the rule of law and access to justice,” she explained.

She continued: “we have publicized contact information such as telephone numbers and email addresses and established a website with an online filing mechanism so that there was and continues to be access to our courts’ registries and offices. We want to ensure that our court customers matter. We assure you that your matter matters. We want to assure you that ours is a judicial system in which you can place your trust and confidence.”

For her part, outgoing Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Lilian Chatterjee noted that public trust and confidence in the judiciary is important in maintaining a democratic society and upholding good governance. Chatterjee commended the judiciary for launching the timely initiative and pledged her country’s support towards the effort.

According to the Canadian envoy, “If the public does not understand the value of the judicial branch, they will not be will to support it through their taxes and other funding or serve their roles on juries or trust the decisions that come from the system. A lack of trust and support in the system has grave consequences.”