[www.inewsguyana.com] – The huge amount of financial resources spent over the years to improve the judiciary, along with its supporting infrastructure, reflects the importance that government attaches to the legal system, and the ongoing programme to rehabilitate several of the courts, is not only about providing better facilities for those who dispense justice and use the services of the legal system, but to ensure that all have a better quality of life.
This was underscored by President Donald Ramotar, during an address at re-commissioning of the Leonora Magistrate’s court on the West Coast Demerara, Region Three, today.
President Ramotar noted that the facility will ease the inconvenience of persons having to travel long distances to attend court. He pointed out that in many societies, those who are rich or well connected cannot only afford the best lawyers, but can also afford to travel long distances unlike those who are less fortunate. “That is why we invest in these facilities so that we can try as far as possible to increase equal access for everyone to the services of the court and moreover, we have been spending millions of dollars in legal aid so that people should not be at a disadvantage because of their economic circumstances, and they can have an equal opportunity in having justice dispensed to them.”
The Head of State reminded those in attendance that the Judiciary stands as a bulwark, to protect the constitutional rights of others, and ensures that officials act within their powers and the law, and not trample on the rights of others. “Therefore, this government will never underestimate the importance of the judiciary and magistracy to the welfare of the state and welfare of the people,” he stated.
There is a connection between economic and social development and a competent, independent and efficiently functioning judiciary, stated the president. “In fact no investor will be encouraged to invest commercially in any country where the justice sector cannot properly protect his or her investment. Indeed people would not want to even live or moreso spend money where there is no justice or law and order. These are very important in a modern society”
The timely dispensation of justice is a sore issue that must be addressed, the President said, and highlighted cases where persons were eventually found innocent after years of incarceration due to their cases taking far too long to be heard. He described this as “almost painful”.
The Judicial Commission, he said has been mandated to take steps to speed up, and enforce the need for more timely dispensation of justice. The doctrine of separation of powers and the need for institutional independence will always be respected by government, the president vowed, but government does reserve the right to make fair, constructive criticisms whenever they see it necessary.
“I ask that those criticisms not be construed as an attempt to instigate or influence the judiciary in one way or the other or bring it into disrepute”.
The failure to deliver timely judgments can lead to devastating effects particularly with regards for the development, the president said. Some persons even use the courts as “an instrument to slow things up” and this is unacceptable, he added, “Therefore the timely delivery of decisions, even if they are wrong is imperative so they can be quickly challenged by the appellate process”.
Chairing the ceremony was Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine- Beharry, who expressed gratitude on behalf of those in the legal fraternity for government’s decision to rehabilitate not only the Leonora Court, but also others such as the recently commissioned Mibicuri Magistrate Court and the Georgetown Magistrate’s court which will be re-opened on Monday, January 20.