Dec 02, 2020 News
Kaieteur News – Amendments to the Law Reform Commission (LRC) Act of 2016, will allow a wider range of eligible representatives of society, not just lawyers, to be appointed to the Board of the LRC, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, has said.
The Attorney General made this announcement during a recent press briefing on the efforts to implement components of the US$8 million Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded Support for the Criminal Justice System Programme.
According to Nandlall, Cabinet has already approved the proposal to allow the amendments to cater for persons who are trained in finance, natural and social sciences and law enforcement.
In addition, he noted that the amendments will mandate that the private sector and other sections of society are consulted and nominees are provided for appointments.
The AG explained that the Law Reform Commission Act was passed in 2016 under the former APNU+AFC government, which had failed to appoint the Commission.
He noted that when the PPP/C acceded to office in August, it pledged to move swiftly to establish the Commission after it reviewed the Act in its current state.
However the current Act vests in the President, the power to appoint the entire Commission, consulting only with the Minister, and only legally-trained persons are allowed to be part of the Commission.
That, the AG said, is fundamentally flawed, noting that a Law Reform Commission is much larger than the government of the day.
“Therefore, the Commission is expected to hire researchers, social scientists, financial minds and persons trained in different disciplines, who will constantly review issues arising in the country and then consider whether we can find a legislative solution,” he said.
The Attorney General explained that this sort of representation is important, since law reform ensures that the country’s laws are updated at periodic intervals and captures and embraces the aspirations, exigencies, social maladies and vicissitudes of the society as it evolves.
The Law Reform Commission is an advisory body to the State. It can recommend to Parliament amendments to existing laws, new legislation and repeal existing legislations.
“At no point and time, should the laws of our country becomes archaic or out of sync with modern realities and remains static while the development of the population moves ahead because a country is governed by laws and therefore the laws must be at all times be in sync with the developmental agenda of the country,” Nandlall said in explaining the importance of the commission.
However, at present, he said, Guyana’s law reform is done in a “piecemeal manner,” where sections of the laws are reformed based on international obligations, and as a requirement to qualify for financing.
Therefore, he said, “We must have a more programmatic and surer footing upon which we must rest the important exercise of law reform, hence the need for a Law Reform Commission.” Minister Nandlall noted that prior to 2015; he could not implement a Law Reform Commission since there was no law revision. The last law revision exercise was done 30 years before 2013, in 1978. Therefore, he said, one of the first tasks of the Commission will be to conduct a law revision exercise and bring the country’s legislation up to date as of 2020.
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