Oct 10, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The second edition of Guyana’s Code of Ethics for Judicial Officers is now available, and must be made to shine in all that it enshrines, all that it could mean. When put into practice on a consistent basis, by all Judicial Officers of this country, it could make so much of a difference in so many areas of life, many of which suffer from a serious lack of confidence. The Guyana Judiciary is no exception.
We, at this paper, state our position in ringing terms: when there is a truly independent and ethical judiciary, then there is the perception and reality that justice is, indeed, served. It is that justice for all exists, regardless of station, even when citizens are poor and despised, when unconnected. For too many Guyanese, especially those at the bottom of the economic and social ladders, there is the sense that they are cheated out of justice by ongoing injustices, by failures in the human resource section of the justice system.
We will also be clear about something else: the local justice system is only as good as the judicial officers manning its dangerous bridges, its tempting dark corners, its precarious corridors. If the justice system is peopled by those with a certain gleam in their eye, then not the first edition, not this second edition, not any number of editions will make a difference. The men and women, those who are deserving of our respect, if not admiration, maybe even the occasional rare instances of awe, are those who make the Code of Ethics sparkle with powerful light that cannot and will not be suppressed, because it will shine through any darkness, from any source. It will stand any demanding test, withstand any improper intrusions, and overcome any manifestations that derail the wise and reliable and credible administration of justice. In other words, justice will not be subverted to the whims and caprices of those who desire to use it for their own narrow, self-serving interests and visions.
We need such in this country, if only to thwart the interferences of the powerful, the rich, and the criminal. To this end, it was fitting that Chancellor (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards in her address identified the core values of “independence, impartiality, equality, competence, and diligence” as vital to the work of judicial officers. Those are non-negotiable, should never be available for bartering, or any other manner of exchanging. They are too priceless to be subject to such shabby bazaar practices, which leave all less than worthy of the great responsibility, and the corresponding great trusts, that are so intertwined in any judicial machinery. The Chancellor (Ag) herself, and her erudite colleague, the Chief Justice (Ag), Roxane George, are both well aware of the perceptions that plague the operations of Guyana’s judiciary. In a recent address, mention was made of the ground lost, the clean ground to be recovered. This is what authorises and assures a trusted justice system.
It is where Guyana’s Code of Ethics and its Judicial Officers are as one, to the point of being indecipherable identical twins. Code and officers mirror and reinforce each other, which is when true justice prevails. It will not brook any inroads by other arms in the constitutional governance apparatus. It will not respond to the lures of lucre, or any such attempted infiltrations and damnations. Let this also be said, independence and impartiality will only come and flourish when there is deep and abiding personal integrity on the part of judicial officers. It is the fullness of their integrity, at the individual and collective levels, that guarantees independence and impartiality, and not the other way around.
We thank the team for its hard work behind-the-scenes. Now the harder work of making the code come alive in all the majesty of its contents is what could go a long way in easing some of the chronic misconceptions, not altogether misplaced distrusts, and continuing low expectations that are now too much a part and parcel of the local judicial scene. If this Code of Ethics is embraced then, we can have every confidence in that old Latin phrase: Fiat Justitia ruatcaelum – let justice be done, though the heavens fall.
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