Govt envisions modern infrastructure for Judiciary – Attorney General

…says legal system must be impartial and function most
efficiently to deliver justice
…as Bartica Magistrate’s Court opens with advanced outfit

Government will be working to modernise the infrastructure of the Judiciary across the country, providing newer technologies and facilities to aid in the dispensation of cases and service to the people.

The new Bartica Magistrate’s Court

These were the sentiments of Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney-General Anil Nandlall, SC, on Thursday during the official opening of the Bartica Magistrate’s Court in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) – which he identified as a standard bearer for future courts.
With a modernised structure, he said, the country’s judicial framework should be able to stand among other systems, regionally.
“Ten years ago, those facilities in a court would have been considered inconceivable, not possible. This, I have no doubt, will be the standard bearer of courts going forward…Today, you will have a magistrate resident here in an air-conditioned courtroom who will be able to take your evidence by recording five days per week all year round. The judicial arm of the State is essential to us going forward as a country and as a people,” Nandlall said.
He added, “We have to get modern structure that will be the epicentre of our judiciary, modern infrastructure that can be compared with any in the Caribbean and we are working towards that. It will be done with the same degree of cooperation and collaboration and respect.”
It was outlined that Guyanese must benefit from a legal system that is impartial and functions most efficiently to deliver justice.
“The economists have done a lot of studies and they have established beyond doubt that in every society in which there is economic development, social progress and prosperity, you have a judicial system that is functioning, efficient, considered to be impartial and that enjoys the public confidence of that society,” the Legal Affairs Minister said.
Nandlall added that the decision to upgrade this part of the legal network stemmed from a realisation that a robust judiciary was essential in gaining confidence from the population, in the rule of law.
“Our Government is committed, after recognising a pivotal role and function of the Judiciary in the equation of nation-building, to working with the Judiciary every step of the way to ensure that we provide you, the people of our country, the quality of justice system to which you are entitled. This is the place where we must all turn for the settlement of our disputes,” the AG noted.
In 2018, construction commenced on the Bartica Magistrate’s Court, which was slated for completion in 2020. After delays due to the pandemic and a few readjustments, the building is now complete. The $177 million facility includes a court office, chambers, lock-ups, chambers of the Magistrates, courtroom, probation office, library, briefing room, and two living quarters.
Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards related that the modernised court would be a ‘busy court’, with the increased cases coming out from mining areas and incidents of Trafficking in Persons.
“There are many cases I’m told on the horizon. There’re many cases in relation to child support cases, active and inactive ones. I dare say that the inactive ones will become active as the services would be achieved right in the community. We would like to say also that the Police who have been on the frontline have seen an increase in cases, especially given the gold mining districts and the borders, and increased cases in Trafficking in Persons,” Justice Cummings-Edwards noted.
Resident Magistrate Crystal Lambert indicated that the adopted use of technology would be advantageous while noting that they were seeking to build greater synergy between law enforcement and the Judiciary.
“Our Judiciary has fully embraced the use of technology in the management of our daily case flow. I look forward to building on the synergies that we have already developed with the Police, the prison and other stakeholders and community leaders … A resident magistrate would mean that the court can sit five days per week with an enhanced and improved access to Bartica community and the wider region,” Magistrate Lambert said.
Meanwhile, Bartica Mayor Gifford Marshall said that this infrastructure was a symbol of institutional strengthening and a greater mechanism to uphold the rule of law.