Law Reform Commission to represent wider society

– Attorney General

Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall has said that amendments to the Law Reform Commission Act of 2016, will allow a wider range of eligible candidates to be appointed.

At a recent press briefing at the Umana Yana, the Attorney General announced that the amendments, which were approved by Cabinet, will see the appointment of persons other than lawyers, who are trained in finance, natural and social sciences, and law enforcement.

The amendments will also mandate that the private sector and other sections of society be consulted, and provide nominees for appointments.

The Attorney General explained that law reform ensures that the country’s laws are updated at periodic intervals, and captures and embraces the aspirations, exigencies, social maladies and vicissitudes of the society as it evolves.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall

Currently, he said, Guyana’s law reform is done in a “piecemeal manner” where sections of the laws are reformed based on international obligations, and as a requirement to qualify for financing.

Therefore, he said, “We must have a more programmatic and surer footing upon which we must rest the important exercise of law reform, hence the need for a Law Reform Commission.”

Minister Nandlall noted that prior to 2015, he could not implement a Law Reform Commission since there was no law revision.

The last law revision exercise was done 30 years before 2013, in 1978. The laws were disorganised, scattered across various bases.

An exercise to consolidate the legislation started in 2010, and was completed under the Attorney General’s leadership. Therefore, he said, one of the first tasks of the Commission will be to conduct that Law Revision exercise and bring the country’s legislation up to date as of 2020.

The Law Reform Commission Act was passed in 2016 under the former APNU/AFC Coalition, which failed to appointed the Commission.

When the PPP/C acceded to office in August, it pledged to move swiftly to establish the Commission after it reviewed the Act in its current state.

The current Act vests in the President the power to appoint the entire Commission, consulting only with the Minister, and only legally-trained persons are allowed to be part of the Commission.

That, the AG said, is fundamentally flawed, noting that a Law Reform Commission is much larger than the Government of the Day.

“Therefore, the Commission is expected to hire researchers, social scientists, financial minds and persons trained in different disciplines, who will constantly review issues arising in the country and then consider whether we can find a legislative solution.”

The Law Reform Commission is an advisory body to the State. It can recommend to Parliament amendments to existing laws, new legislation, and repeal existing legislations. The establishment of a Law Reform Commission is part of a fundamental component of the US$8 million Inter-American Development Bank-funded Support for the Criminal Justice System Programme.

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