$4.6 billion for justice sector reform, strengthening

new courtrooms for Port Kaituma, Mabaruma, Vigilance

The Government has proposed the allocation of $4.6 billion for justice sector reform and strengthening to modernise the justice sector and make Government systems more accessible, inclusive and open to all.

During the budget presentation on Friday, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility Finance, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh said the Government is firmly committed to ensuring that all citizens have access to, and are protected by, the justice system.

The Supreme Court of Judicature, the High Court

To this end, the sum of $1.2 billion was allocated for the construction and equipping of new courtrooms as well as living quarters, supporting facilities at locations including Port Kaituma, Mabaruma and Vigilance. This will reduce travel time and cost for citizens requiring the services of the courts.

The Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will also be expanded to house more prosecutors.  An additional 10 legal staff will be hired, which will allow the DPP to address the current backlog. Software would also be procured to better manage cases through their entire process.

Additionally, over $100 million has been earmarked for the maintenance of infrastructure and buildings for the Supreme Court and DPP which will together serve to ensure that improved physical facilities are made available.

Minister Singh also announced that in 2021, the long-awaited Law Reform Commission would be established, charting the way to advance Guyana’s legislative agenda.

“The activities under the Support for Criminal Justice System programme will unfold, after a period of stagnation under the previous administration, with a sum of $325 million budgeted for this year for interventions including strengthening of probation services and legal aid,” he said.

In 2020, container courtrooms were established to facilitate virtual court sessions at the Lusignan Prison, all in an effort to align with the safety measures instituted to fight against COVID. This initiative is to be implemented at the New Amsterdam, Mazaruni and Camp Street prisons this year.

Dr. Singh said in the coming years, more courts are expected to be opened along the populated East Bank corridor. He told the National Assembly that the PPP/C Administration would continue to uphold the separation of powers between the branches of the state, support the continued reform of the legislative environment and improve the accountability of the criminal justice system.