Mar 07, 2015 News
By Kiana Wilburg
Distinguished Guyanese Scholar, Sir Fenton Ramsahoye, affirms that serious attention needs to be paid to Guyana’s judicial system. The Senior Counsel (S.C) opined that the absence of ‘checks and balances’ is causing inordinate delays for certain high profile constitutional cases.
Sir Fenton said that it is disappointing that the budget cuts case for 2012, is yet to be heard in the Court of Appeal as well as others, such as the Jacob Rambarran matter which challenges the makeup of the controversial Broadcasting Authority.
The attorney-at-law said that it is certainly a disturbing matter and should be taken into consideration by the next government.
The Queen’s Counsel said that the current state of the judiciary is not satisfactory because there are too many delays in the system. But while he is disappointed in the apparent lack of discipline in the organization, he said that the judiciary is not alone responsible.
Sir Fenton asserted that some lawyers need to accept some of the blame for the disorderliness they create by seeking unnecessary postponements. He opined that some attorneys do not approach the law with a certain degree of respect, discipline and importance to ensure they avoid delays.
“Hence my position that the other elements of the Judiciary cannot be completely at fault because they alone cannot contribute to the disfunctioning system,” the Senior Counsel added.
Sir Fenton said that what is urgently needed is a whole revision of the system whereby, the judges and the lawyers would accept their responsibilities and act accordingly for it is far removed from that at the moment.
In relation to criticisms from several quarters that acting Chief Justice, Ian Chang, manning the Constitutional Court alone puts Guyana on a dangerous precipice, Sir Fenton Ramsahoye said that he couldn’t agree more. The lawyer said that he strongly believes that one judge should not sit in that court to deal with constitutional questions.
“If memory serves me right, in Jamaica for example, two judges sit on a Constitutional matter. We should have two or three judges sitting on matters in Guyana. Further, having one judge deciding on the cases, denies the other judges a chance to gain the experience in that field. It offends common sense.
“It should be changed because constitutional questions are important and the Constitution itself is riddled with inconsistencies. Different people wrote various parts of this Constitution and then they patched it up together so those are just two points that underscore why the CJ alone should not be burdened with handling all the cases,” the Queen’s Counsel stated.
He then turned his attention to the performance of Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall.
Sir Fenton who also served in this capacity, expressed that an AG would normally try to introduce measures that would improve the laws and create improvements in the administration of justice. But since 2011 election, the former AG claimed that “Nandlall has done nothing to have an impact on the dispensation of justice in Guyana.”
“I wouldn’t say that he failed in his capacity as Attorney General but under his watch, nothing has been done to improve the system and that is really important for us to note. He should have done more.”
Sir Fenton, commenting on some of Nandlall’s contributions to the judicial system such as the digitalization of the Deeds Registry and introduction of new laws, said that he was the least bit convinced or impressed by this.
He said that while it would have been the case, it has not affected a core issue —how justice is served in Guyana and the timeliness of it.
“All those things he did are ok, but I am speaking about the administration of justice being improved. There are critical cases, such as the budgets cuts case and the Jacob Rambarran case which are yet to be dealt with, He, as the AG, should be inquiring when the Court of Appeal will hear them. He should be doing things to get them heard along with other matters.
“I was there myself and I know what goes on in there. You don’t need some bright legal mind to do that kind of administrative work. The Court of Appeal and other organs of the system need to be improved. It is discouraging and saddening that it is this way under the Honourable Nandlall,” The Former AG concluded.
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