May 04, 2021 News
By Malisa Playter-Harry
Kaieteur News – A spanking new edifice that will serve as living quarters for Judicial Officers and Magistrates, who have been assigned to Berbice to carry out their duties, was last week commissioned by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C.
The building, which is situated in the compound of the Berbice High Court in New Amsterdam, Berbice, was constructed at a cost of $92 million. It has four two-bedroom apartments with one bedroom being self-contained, a spacious dining room, a living room, a modern kitchen and toilet and bath facilities.
Minister Nandlall, while addressing those in attendance, noted that with the new structure in place, it will “bring to an end a legacy of renting of premises, dating back to colonial times where our Judicial Officers and Magistrates had to have been accommodated at locations across the coast exposing them to security risks and exposing them to influences… that would have been inimical to the best of justice systems.”
He added that by relocating them to the multi-million-dollar facility, it has brought to an end the issue of Magistrates and Judicial Officers seeking places for rent when they are assigned to the region.
“I have no doubt that they will be securely and comfortably accommodated. The executive is proud to continue to collaborate with the judiciary as the judiciary continues to deliver quality justice to people,” Nandlall said.
The AG underscored that it is the obligation of the State to not only ensure that a judiciary is properly resourced, but also to protect judicial independence and “in this regard I commit that the State will do all that is lawfully necessary to ensure that the judiciary is free from nefarious interferences, political attacks and from being scandalised in the public domain.”
Chancellor of the Judiciary (Ag), Yonette Cummings-Edwards, said that the new facility would be a “home away from home” even as she noted that there are also plans in place to have a gym and a gazebo in place for staff to exercise and relax after work.
“We have cultivated an atmosphere of teamwork here at the court and it has helped us to bring staff together and helped us to pool our ideas; and preparing for the dedication of this building was another team activity,” she added
Meanwhile, Magistrate, Peter Hugh, who was sent to Berbice sometime last year, during brief remarks, stated that when he was assigned to Berbice (Region Six) he found it difficult to find accommodation since he had never lived in the ancient county before. He revealed that he eventually found a place to rent but was then faced with the difficulty of accessing certain amenities that were crucial in his delivery of justice.
“I had to wait months to get internet, within the time I have been serving here in Berbice, I have been relocated twice. My only hope is that this is the last time that I am relocating. It was difficult to find safe and secure accommodation; it is difficult to work away from home and family,” he said.
Magistrate Hugh will be among those assigned to work in Berbice who will be accommodated in the new living quarters.
A ceremonial ribbon was cut on Wednesday last by a staffer of the judiciary in the company of AG Nandlall; Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire and the Chancellor (Ag). A plaque was also unveiled and a tour of the building was conducted.
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