$1.2B for three new courts in Regions One, Four -AG Nandlall
Three new Magistrates courts are set to be constructed at Port Kaituma and Mabaruma, Region One and Vigilance, East Coast Demerara to the tune of $1.2 billion.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC said the projects would be funded through the $4.6 billion proposed for the justice sector in Budget 2021.
Speaking on NCN’s “Budget in Focus” on Thursday, the Attorney General said a large chunk of resources provided to the sector is directed to the judiciary and therefore, the Government’s role is to ensure the system works for the benefit of all.
“The judiciary is one of the most integral and important judicial institution in a democracy, however like every other sector that is funded by Government funds, it is accountable.”
AG Nandlall said one of the significant achievements in recent times is the clearing of the backlog at the High Court.
“I give the judiciary all credit for this, though we have partnered with them in a significant way. We need to keep it like this or else we can slip back quickly,” he said.
However, he noted that there are still some glitches in terms of the time it takes for the court to issue an order, which must be addressed.
Also, efforts must be put into clearing the backlog at the Court of Appeal. AG Nandlall said the Appeal Court is not hearing and disposing of cases with alacrity and therefore, resources will now have to be focused on addressing that issue.
He said some $200 million was expended to convert 30 containers into courtrooms to facilitate virtual court sessions at several prisons, due to COVID-19. These facilities were placed at the New Amsterdam, Camp Street, Lusignan and Timehri prisons, last year, and in 2021, Mazaruni Prison will benefit.
“You have prisoners at Lusignan, you have prisoners at Georgetown, whose cases are being tried, at Kamarang, Monkey Mountain, at Mahdia, at Mabaruma. A plane has to take that prisoner and bring back that prisoner and put that prisoner back to Camp Street and of course the plane has to go with security; you know how much it cost? Today, that prisoner, right there at Camp Street can patch in with the magistrate and have his or her case be heard,” he explained.
While the initiative started as a COVID-19 measure, the Attorney General said it may become a permanent feature of the judicial system because of how effective it is and how much financial resources can be saved.
Additionally, over $100 million has been earmarked for the maintenance of infrastructure and buildings for the Supreme Court and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which will together, serve to ensure that improved physical facilities are made available.