Attorney General visits office of Criminal Justice System Programme
Attorney General’s Chambers, Ministry of Legal Affairs – Monday, August 10, 2020
Today, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall, visited the office where the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded project – “Support for the Criminal Justice System Programme” is housed.
This is a US$8M project under the management of the Ministry of Legal Affairs. The building is located on Hadfield Street, Georgetown and was the former Office of the Leader of the Opposition, David Granger.
The Attorney General stated his satisfaction that such a project is ongoing in Guyana and expressed his unwavering support to it. However, the Attorney General expressed deep regret that since the commencement of the project in 2017, the public is unaware of its nature, or objective.
AG Nandlall expressed dissatisfaction with the way the project is unfolding, and that the people of Guyana are not felting its impact.
He reminded the staff that the project is funded by a loan that will eventually have to be repaid by the people of Guyana. He reminded that in the end, the ultimate beneficiaries of the project are the people of Guyana. In this regard, he urged the staff to strive to ensure that the people reap maximum benefits from this project.
The main objective of the project is “to contribute to the reduction of high concentrations of the prison population in Guyana”.
The more specific objectives are to:
- reduce the proportion of inmates who are pre-trial detainees and.
- increase the use of alternative sentencing in the country.
The project also provides a legal aid service. The Attorney General expressed an intention to review the project documents to ensure that the initiative is being efficiently and effectively managed.
AG Nandlall related that a Sentencing Policy is lacking in Guyana. However, he said, there are Sentencing Guidelines, which were drafted under a previous project but never implemented.
In this regard, the Attorney General tasked the team with reviewing and modifying those guidelines, if necessary, to avoid duplicity. He further stated that Guyana needs a Bail Act, and one is already drafted at the Legislative Drafting Department of the Attorney General Chambers. He urged that this Act be reviewed and updated, if necessary, to avoid wastage of valuable resources.
Notably, the Attorney General expressed the need to have a legal aid programme be grounded on some form of statutory footing. He urged that it be nationally oriented and not confined only to Georgetown, as there are people in need of legal aid right across Guyana.