President David Granger, this morning, called on the Council of Legal Education (CLE) to find new ways to improve the delivery of affordable legal education across the Region. The Head-of-State was at the time addressing the Caribbean’s legal fraternity at the 50thMeeting of the Council of Legal Education held at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown, the Ministry of the Presidency (MotP) reported.
“Guyana’s need for a greater number of trained legal practitioners cannot be satisfied by the present quotas imposed on our students by regional law schools. Guyana looks towards the Council of Legal Education to facilitate the education of more specialised legal practitioners in the Caribbean,” President Granger was quoted by MotP as saying.
Guyana is in the process of establishing its own law school to meet the demands not only of Guyanese law students but that of the Region. The school, which will be named the Joseph Oscar Fitzclarence Haynes (J.O.F) Law School, will be located at the University of Guyana (UG).
Meanwhile, President Granger noted that the Council’s contributions to the development of Caribbean jurisprudence are undisputed while pointing to the Council’s Mission in providing legal education across the Region.
“Legal education programmes should aim at producing attorneys of integrity, intelligence and impartiality. These programmes should inculcate the virtues of public service and the values of social responsibility. Legal education should satisfy the need for qualified and competent legal practitioners to meet the demands of changing societies,” the President said.
He reminded the gathering that legal education is needed to ensure an adequate number of legal professionals can provide legal services throughout the State, promote access to justice, populate the legal systems with lawyers, jurists and specialised legal practitioners as well as preparing future practitioners to preserve the rule of law.
The Constitutions of all of the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are characterised by a common commitment to the principles of citizens’ equality before the law and respect for their civil, political and socio-economic rights.
President Granger said that “Equality before the law and the sanctity of human rights, however, can be guaranteed only if there is access to justice. Legal education is essential to establishing a corps of legal professionals to provide legal services and to facilitate access to justice.”
Additionally, the President stressed the need for there to be access to justice across the Region while noting that in Guyana more specifically than any other Caribbean country, there is a need to reduce the impact of geographical impediments to access justice.
Moreover, the President noted that access to the courts here is being enhanced with the establishment of new magisterial districts and specialised courts. The Upper Demerara River Magisterial District Court and the Rupununi Magisterial District Court Office were commissioned over the past year.
“The establishment of these districts removes or reduces the need for residents to travel outside of their home regions to access legal services. The judiciary has announced plans to establish municipal and children/youth courts. A family court is functioning and started to hear cases on May 6, 2016,” the President Granger said.
Meanwhile, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams, S.C., in his opening remarks, said that the Council of Legal Education has a critical role to play in the delivery of quality legal education to law students. He reminded that Guyana played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Council as the agreement establishing the Council was signed in Georgetown. Guyana is also a founding member of the Council together with CARICOM Member States, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago along with the University of the West Indies and the University of Guyana.
Prime Minister, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo, Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton and Minister of Public Affairs, Ms. Dawn Hastings also attended the meeting, the MotP reported.