New, amended bills tabled at 81st National Assembly sitting

The government Thursday morning tabled several monumental bills when the 81st sitting of the National Assembly got underway at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal.

Among the bills presented to the August House was the Criminal Law Procedure (Paper Committals) Bill, which provides for the abolition of preliminary inquiries and the substitution thereof with paper committals, which involves reviewing the evidence and arguments presented by the prosecution and the defence in written form, rather than conducting an oral in-person hearing in court.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira

Another proposed legislation was the Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2024 which seeks to alter section 24 of the Fugitive Offenders Act, Chapter 10:04.

The aim is to expand the types of documents that shall be admissible in evidence by providing for the admissibility of a record of evidence of a case and the procedural requirements for the admissibility of such evidence.

Clause Two of the bill amends subsection (1) of section 24 by inserting a new paragraph (d) which provides a record of evidence of the case against the person, including evidence that would not otherwise be admissible under the laws of Guyana, shall be admissible in evidence in proceedings under the act.

For context, a record of evidence of the case, as defined in this bill, includes:

  • documents, statements, or other evidence that describe the identity and probable location of the person sought;
  • a statement of the facts of the case, including, if possible, the time and location of the offence;
  • a statement of the provisions of the law describing the essential elements and designation of the offence for which extradition is requested.

Accordingly, new subsections (4) and (5) of the bill provide for the procedural documents that must accompany a record of evidence of the case.

Another bill put before the National Assembly was the Constitution Reform Commission (Amendment) Bill 2024, which seeks to amend the 2022 legislation.

Clause Three of the bill seeks to amend section three of the Principal Act to increase the membership of the commission from 20 members to 21.

The proposed changes could also see the president nominating a member of the commission.

Meanwhile, the government wants the Defence Act, Chapter 15.01 to be amended to provide a change of the name “Chief of Staff” to “Chief of Defence Staff.”