Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:57 AM
Jan 17, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – A total of $6.2B has been allocated from 2023 national budget for improvements to the justice sector. Minister within the Office of the President with the Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said.
During his presentation, Dr. Singh made the point that the preservation of public trust and the safety of citizens can only be attained when justice prevails for all Guyanese.
In the quest to attain this, he noted that Government is unwavering in its commitment to strengthen the justice sector. Accordingly, he said that 2020 manifesto measures included the reform and accountability of the criminal justice system to ensure that justice is delivered in a timely manner. “This is especially important in boosting investor confidence in our changing economic climate which relies heavily on the rule of law,” he added. In 2022, Government spent $4.4B on the justice sector improvements.
Dr. Singh outlined with respect to expanding access to justice, the Kwakwani Magistrate’s Court was commissioned in 2022, while an additional eight courts: Court of Appeal, Mabaruma, Port Kaituma, Vigilance, Cove & John, Mahaicony, Bartica, and Mahdia are slated for completion in 2023.
Additionally, he said, ICT is being deployed to improve the efficiency of the court system.
In this regard, SMART courts are among the new projects intended to accelerate the provision of justice. He announced that an E-Litigation Programme for the Court of Appeal and the Georgetown High Court, as well as a Case Management System for the Magistrates’ Courts is intended to go live in 2023. Towards these and other initiatives, $1.5B is budgeted in 2023.
Additionally, the Finance Minister said investments are being made to strengthen technical capacity to improve the efficiency of the system.
In particular, he said 34 persons successfully completed the Prosecutorial Programme at the University of Guyana increasing the number of prosecutors assigned to various courts countrywide, with the aim of reducing the need for pre-trial detention.
Further, in November 2022, he said the Restorative Justice Act was passed, paving the way for the use of alternative sentencing for specific categories of offences, along with the approval of an amendment to the Narcotic Drugs and psychotropic Substances Control Act, allowing the removal of custodial sentences for persons in possession of 30 grammes or less of cannabis.
In 2023, the Finance Minister noted that a number of other initiatives are targeted to advance the constitutional and law reform processes. These include the operationalising of the Constitutional Reform Commission; the work of the Law Reform Commission; the completion of the Revised Laws of Guyana; and, the preparation of the Law Reports of Guyana.
He added that “In this regard, I am pleased to announce that the new Laws of Guyana volumes are expected to be available by June of this year. An amount of over $600 million has been provided to finance these and other initiatives.”
Further, in the interest of expanding capacity of the justice sector, Dr. Singh noted that work will be advanced to improve the ease of access to legal education. Having received the green light from the Council of Legal Education (CLE), a feasibility study will be prepared in 2023, on the establishment of a regional law school in Guyana, within the framework of the CLE. This will cater for local, regional and extra-regional students given the growing need for legal education in Guyana and the Caribbean.
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