National Assembly passes Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Bill

-divests President of power to appoint full Commission
– includes participation of wider society, Amerindians

The National Assembly on Thursday passed the Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Bill 2020 which makes provision for more inclusivity on the Commission.

In his contribution to the House, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Hon, Anil Nandlall SC said the Bill will allow the Law Reform Commission to be broader-based and represented by important stakeholders in society.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Hon, Anil Nandlall SC delivers his address at the National Assembly.

This includes persons who possess a legal background as well as those who have at least 10 years of experience in the areas of banking, industry, economics or commerce, social or natural sciences or law enforcement, as well as a representative from the National Toshaos Council (NTC).

The Act which was passed in 2016 under the Coalition Government, vested in the President the power to appoint the entire Commission, consulting only with the Minister, and only legally-trained persons were allowed to form part of the Commission.

“This here, is an example where we are voluntarily migrating executive powers that we already have, compliments of that side, and we are extending it to have an involvement and an engagement to those that are extrinsic to our Executive Government. This exemplifies the type of difference in our philosophy and our style of Government,” the Attorney General said.

The amendment bill also lists the NTC as one of the organisations that must be consulted before persons are appointed to the Commission. The NTC is the highest representative body for Amerindian Peoples in Guyana. That amendment was moved by Member of Parliament, Hon. Alister Charlie.

During his presentation, MP Charlie said the Amendment to include the First Peoples is timely and necessary, since the NTC represents over 200 Amerindian and hinterland communities countrywide. He said Amerindians have the right as enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana and under the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to participate in national decision making in matters which affect them.

“The NTC representative on the Law Reform Commission would truly represent the diverse nature of Guyana society,” MP Charlie said.

Government MP Hon. Sanjeev Datadin and Opposition MP, Hon. Lenox Shuman, who is also the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, also supported the amendment.

Despite passing the Act in 2016 the APNU+AFC Coalition, failed to appoint the Commission. When the PPP/C took office in August 2020, it pledged to move swiftly to establish the Commission after it reviewed the Act.

The Law Reform Commission is an advisory body to the State and can recommend to Parliament amendments to existing laws, new legislation, and the repeal of existing legislation.