President says access to justice will improve significantly in the Upper Demerara Region

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-as new Magisterial District formally opens

President David Granger said that the opening of Guyana’s 10th Magisterial District is not an instruction of the Executive. “It is an initiative of the Judiciary and that in itself is a manifestation of the independence, which this critical branch of Government enjoys under the current administration,” the President was quoted in a government release as saying.

President David Granger and Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards unveiling the plaque to open the Upper Demerara Magisterial District (MoTP photo)

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the constitution of the Upper Demerara Magisterial District, the Head of State noted, though, that this initiative falls in line with Government’s push to improve access to justice for all Guyanese. The event was held at the Linden Magistrate’s Court.

In Guyana, the Summary Jurisdiction (Magistrates) Act empowers the Chancellor of the Judiciary to divide Guyana, or any portion thereof, into magisterial districts; constitute, in any part of Guyana, a magisterial district or districts; distinguish the districts by name and number and vary the limits of any district.

“This Magisterial District brings the administration of justice closer to the people. It is aimed at timelier and less costly justice. It makes justice more accessible for this Region’s residents. This is a model, which can be replicated in each of Guyana’s ten administrative Regions. If citizens cannot come to the court, the court must come to the citizen,” President Granger was quoted by the Ministry of the Presidency as saying.

According to the MoTP, Granger told members of the Judiciary, who were present at the event, that the Executive Branch supports fully, the establishment of this new District as it is in keeping with the Government’s vision of enhancing delivery of and access to justice across the country.

This Magisterial District will remove the need for residents of Linden, Ituni and Kwakwani to travel to Vreed-en-Hoop and New Amsterdam to access legal services.

Speaking on how access to justice has expanded over the years, Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards informed that in the first two decades of the 20th century, there were only four local magistrates in Guyana. Today, there are a total of 24, all of whom are Guyanese. With regard to this new Magisterial District, she said that in addition to regular court sittings, Municipal Courts will be introduced, which will assist the efforts of the Mayor and Town Council to protect the town’s environment. Moreover, Youth/Children’s Court will also be introduced, which will focus more on rehabilitating young offenders, the MoTP reported.

The sentiments expressed by the acting Chancellor and President Granger were echoed by President of the Guyana Bar Association, Mr. Kamal Ramkarran, who said that this new District means that justice has come home of the people of the Upper Demerara community.

The ceremony ended with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and the unveiling of a plaque by President Granger at the Court. The event was attended by members of the Judiciary, residents of the Linden community and officials from the Regional Administration and the Town Council, the MoTP added.

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