…and says Jagdeo’s regime emasculated it
Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, was yesterday asked to
respond to allegations made by General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo, about alleged attacks on the judiciary if decisions are not made in favour of the administration.
Williams refuted this claim during a press conference hosted at his Chambers, Carmichael Street Georgetown, saying that all he made comments on were in regards to how the Government was going to appeal the two cases at the Caribbean Court of Justice. He posited that perhaps, his comments were being confused with those made by other commentators with regards to the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Carl Singh.
Williams took aim at the PPP/C more particularly, – the former President of Guyana – saying that it was under his tenure that the judiciary was emasculated. The AG said that under the PPP/C regime, the powers were removed from the Chief Justice’s office to the Office of the Chancellor.
“Why? Because he (Jagdeo) prepared a wicket; removed all the powers from one office to the next and let me say, it is important that there is a dichotomy between the Chief Justice’s functions and the Chancellor’s functions in terms of sharing the work in the judiciary so that one person would not be in charge of the entire judiciary – administratively. That has affected us a great deal because it meant that when the Chief Justice had supervision over the judges of the High Court, and the Chancellor had supervision over the judges of the Appellate Court and
I think the magistrates, we have a situation where the checks and balances that we had, was removed.”
The AG said that Guyana’s Constitution is premised on the separation of powers – that is, the Judiciary, the Executive of Government and the Legislature -which all have their independent roles and “no one should trod on the work of the other.”
“What we had under Jagdeo was that we had a marauding judiciary. So the complaint is not that there is interference with the Judiciary, the Judiciary was interfering in the work of the executive and that is happening until now,” Williams asserted.
He added that the Judiciary when it was inherited by the former Government was “dysfunctional”.
“It has chronic backlog of cases. We inherited a dysfunctional judiciary, so I don’t know what Jagdeo is talking about, and we (are) going to correct it and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The AG posited that there is no part in the world where there is a change and persons who would have benefitted from the old systems would not “put up a resistance.”
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