‘Lawyers promote, courts protect fundamental rights’- Justice Carl Singh
DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, April 12, 2018
Students, lecturers, and members of the public were last evening treated to an informative and thought-provoking discussion on the ‘Constitutional Guarantee of Fundamental Rights and the Citizen’. The session was hosted by the University of Guyana as part of ‘Project Renaissance’ which was launched in 2016 by Vice Chancellor, Ivelaw Griffith. These sessions are the entitled ‘Conversations on Law and Society’.
Presenting last evening was the Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence, Justice, Carl A. Singh who gave historical accounts of the identification of these rights. Referring to personal accounts Justice Singh highlighted the significant lack of understanding by individuals about the constitution and what the constitution recognises as their fundamental rights.
“It is in the context of providing a general education that I have framed my presentation tonight. My aim is to present a general idea of what these fundamental rights are. So that, in keeping with my observations made, I hope to be able to convey or rather make contribution to what has been perceived as the woeful lack of education by our people about these fundamental rights.” Singh said.
The former Chancellor chose to focus on the right to life, freedom of expression and protection from discrimination. Justice Singh showcasing his vast knowledge on the topics stressed the importance of persons being cognisant of their constitutional and fundamental rights, therefore eliminating the likelihood of their rights being violated.
He further noted that while the constitution is the supreme law of the land which contains these rights, however the fundamental rights are not absolute but conditional, meaning that there are limitations to these essential rights.
It was then that he cautioned those present to be wary when utilising their fundamental rights, so as to not to infringe the rights of others. Justice Singh quoted the words of the late Justice S. Yacoob Mohamed from his book Constitutional Law of Guyana.
“Absolute or unrestricted rights do not exist in a civilized society; a man’s fundamental rights and freedoms must not therefore violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of others”
Justice Singh closed stating that it is the responsibility of lawyers to promote the fundamental rights and freedoms in the society and it is the role of the court as the guardians of the constitution, to protect those rights.
The evening ended with students and adults positing questions to the Justice.
This is the third conversation on Law and Society, with the first and second focusing on ‘The life and work of Joseph Oscar Fitzclarence Haynes’ and ‘Guyana’s Boarders Boundaries Barriers and Bridges’ respectively. These discussions invite participants to examine the legal ramifications of social issues and the social implications of legal issues through research and reflection, dialogue and debate. They also provide an opportunity for the University and the public to share ideas and to contribute to positive change in the society.
By: Stephon Gabriel