Law Reform Commission vital to Government’s systematic approach to legal reform – President Ali
– Tells sworn-in Commissioners that reforms must enhance human rights, freedoms
His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali this afternoon told the newly sworn-in Law Reform Commissioners that their work will be critical towards ensuring that the country remains updated with new and evolving legislative trends to enhance human rights and freedoms of its citizens.
The Head of State made these remarks at the Office of the President on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive after the oaths of office were administered to the members of the Commission.
The group is being chaired by Retired Justice of Appeal Beasraj Singh Roy and also includes Teni Eric Housty, Clarissa Riehl, Dr Brian O’Toole, Emily Dodson, Roopnarine Satram and Deenawati Panday.
The members will serve for three years.
DYNAMIC AND EVER-CHANGING
The President said that since society is dynamic and ever-changing, the law, as a central pillar of civilised society, must be regularly updated in order to keep abreast with societal changes. He added that reforms are equally important to fill gaps in the country’s legislative architecture, harmonise its laws with international obligations while being responsive to the demands of modern justice.
“The work of the Commission is vital to ensuring that Government develops a systematic approach to legal reforms including prioritising and establishing a programme of such reforms. The work of the Commission is also critical to ensuring that Guyana keeps abreast with emerging and evolving legislative trends in the world.”
President Ali said that it is the duty of all societies to continuously perfect and modernise their laws since no law can remain “totally relevant” over decades or centuries.
He added that not every piece of legislation drafted in society can be easily transplanted, remain effective, or produce the desired results in another society, and it is therefore imperative that law reform adapts to the circumstances of the country.
He also stressed that given that the country’s economy is changing, the laws have to reflect the changes. He pointed to the current pandemic where there is a global debate on various aspects, including public health laws and what should be mandatory. He said that the country cannot be left behind or excluded from these discussions and that the Commission will be serving at a very important time, not only in Guyana’s context but in the global context. This he noted, calls for “forward-thinking and also a wider understanding and appreciation to the environment in which Guyana is operating in, from a social, economic, political and international point of view”.
RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
The President also stressed that legal reforms must enhance and not inhibit human rights and freedoms.
“Legal reforms, must, of necessity, empower citizens and protect them from arbitrariness. It must foster and facilitate, not frustrate development. Legal reforms must help build greater trust between our citizens and our justice system. These, I believe, represent the litmus test of the effectiveness of legal reforms.”
GOVERNMENT’S FULL SUPPORT
The Head of State also emphasised that legal reform is a priority of his Administration. This, he said, is evident by the Government’s expeditious undertaking to amend the Law Reform Commission Act, having the amendment passed in the National Assembly, and agreeing to the order to bring the Commission into being.
“There is much work ahead. My Government will offer its full support to the Commission, and will welcome and treat with the utmost seriousness its recommendations.”
The President pointed out that the Commission was established through a consultative process whereby its members were selected through discussions with diverse stakeholders including organisations representing the legal profession, the private sector, the trade union movement, consumers affairs entities, the religious community, the Rights Commission and the National Toshaos’ Council as was required by the Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Act 2021.