JOF Haynes Law School not on hold – AG says feasibility study moving apace

DPI Guyana, Monday, January 8, 2018

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel (SC) Basil Williams today clarified that his Ministry is in the process of finalising the engagement with Guyana’s Jamaican counterparts in relation to the establishment of the Joseph Haynes Law School here; dispelling claims that the matter has been put on hold.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel (SC) Basil Williams.

The Attorney General (AG) said this final engagement is in keeping with the decision of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Legal Education, made at a meeting in January 2017, in Jamaica.

He made it clear that a statement issued by Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Senior Counsel, Reginald Armour and repeated by the former AG Anil Nandlall, stating that Guyana was not given permission to establish the law school had to be withdrawn.

“I don’t know what is his [SC Armour] remit and why he believes he can frustrate the efforts of our government to try to alleviate the suffering of our law students,” the Minister said.

Following enquiries, the Minister said it was discovered that former Chancellor Justice Carl Singh was part of the Review Committee examining the establishment of the law school and SC Armour was corresponding with him directly. This revelation prompted the AG to request the removal of Justice Singh, who was then replaced by the new Chancellor Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards.

AG Williams questioned the motive of SC Armour, “He engages an opposition member without even consulting the sitting Attorney General and fixes the matter on the agenda without asking my permission first. So, we do not know what is the motivation of Mr. Armour. I don’t believe that he is acting in a manner which a person who is a custodian of member organisations should.”

The Review Committee, he noted, cannot make decisions to overrule the Council’s decision, pointing to the fact that this Committee was established since 2009, a period, which the AG said was characterised by the worst sufferings endured by Guyana’s law students.

Guyana’s top performing 25 law students for many years had the difficulty of fighting for entry into the Hugh Wooding Law School.

The Legal Affairs Minister reminded that it was President David Granger who had taken the matter to the 36th Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Meeting.  The decision was then taken to have Guyanese students admitted to the Hugh Wooding Law School.

“They couldn’t sign the collaborative agreement, it is only until I came into office and I pursued that. The students were never in a position in terms of certainty whether they would be admitted to the law school,” he said.

Further, AG Williams said if SC Armour continues to act against the interest of Guyana, the matter may have to be taken to the CARICOM Heads once again.

Notwithstanding this, Minister Williams assured that the feasibility study on the establishment of the law school is moving apace. UG’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith was written by the AG in relation to the demarcation of the land to be identified at the Turkeyen Campus.

“Once we have the land, we will try and ensure that we move ahead to try and alleviate the sufferings of the law students,” AG Williams assured.

In January 2017, the Attorney General signed the historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of the Caribbean (UCC) and Law College of the Americas (LCA) for the establishment of the JOF Haynes Law School in Guyana.

The establishment of the school is expected to significantly reduce the cost, particularly to Guyanese, to continue with their law studies while attracting other students from across the Caribbean.

 

By: Stacy Carmichael

 

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