The Judiciary continues to be plagued by the non- confirmation of three high ranking officials in the legal system.
For the past four years or so, the Chancellor of the Judiciary, the Chief Justice and the Chief Magistrate have all been conducting their duties with no job security, given the fact that they have been acting.
Although they all come with a wealth of knowledge and experience as legal practitioners, their confirmation is an uncertainty.
Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang has been in that position since December 2007, so too is the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh.
Melissa Robertson, who recently graduated with a Master’s Degree, has been acting in the capacity of Chief Magistrate since September 2007.
She has been Principal Magistrate since 2005, and if one wants to get technical she is still considered the “Principal Magistrate” because of the non-confirmation.
Recommendations for these posts are usually done by the Judicial Service Commission, and the Head of State would make the substantive appointments.
President of the Guyana Bar Association, Teni Housty, recently told Kaieteur News that although the Judiciary in Guyana is not unique to the existence of acting appointments, the consistency of acting appointments raises various and serious concerns.
With the non-confirmation, it can negatively impact the public’s confidence in the administration of justice, according to Housty.
Housty said that the scenario leaves for the perception of politicising judicial appointments, which in some jurisdictions has led to criticisms of political bargaining.
He also posited that it can lead to speculations on the political reflections on the nature of the persons acting in the posts.
The Bar Association President said that a survey of many public offices has shown that at some point in time there was the existence of acting appointments.
However, Housty says it should not discourage the rightful legal body, which is the Judicial Service Commission to readily address the problem.
Article 127 (1) says, “The Chancellor and Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.” With this being said, Housty says a number of questions arise.
“Why is there no agreement between the parties? Is reaching an agreement a political priority? Also, when was the last attempt made and where does the solution lie?
He said that non-confirmation gives a negative impact on the public confidence in the administration of justice.
The non-confirmation of these three officials can coincide with the non-appointment of Senior Counsels for over 13 years. Housty suggested that the politics should be removed from the appointments and the appointments should be processed.
A number of lawyers had called for the introduction of a more transparent process for the appointments.
Housty said that the failure to appoint Senior Counsels, can be seen as a disservice not only to the legal profession in Guyana, but also to the State and society as a whole.
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