PPP/C left a broken judicial system” – AG Williams

– Says government will continue working to restore the independence of the Judiciary in Guyana

DPI, Guyana, Friday, December 21, 2018

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC today called out the PPP/C for leaving the Coalition Government a “broken” and autocratic” judicial system.

Defending of the Government’s stewardship of the country in the House today, AG Williams explained that the APNU+AFC government inherited this broken system in addition to which the Judiciary had no fundamental independence and had to go cap-in-hand to the Government to seek salaries and benefits for the Judges.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC.

“The then Acting Chancellor decided to also act as Chief Justice and was only stopped by the decision of one of his High Court Judges’ order. But this happened after the then Government removed the built-in check and balance that divided the administration of the duties and functions of the Supreme Court between the Chancellor and Chief Justice,” the AG told the House.

The Attorney General noted that as a consequence, all the duties and functions of the office of Chief Justice were transferred to the Chancellor, giving him absolute and dictatorial powers to ride roughshod over the Judicial system.

“This gave him the power to appoint who presided over any matter before the Courts from the Magistracy to the Court of Appeal and sat on appeal of such matters when they went before the Court of Appeal. Despite being rejected by successive Leaders of the Opposition, the then Government continued to put him up for the office of Chancellor, resulting in the positions of the Chancellor and Chief Justice being acting positions for well over a decade,” the AG said.

Observing that there were many other ills that time would not allow him to speak of now, AG Williams noted that it was the APNU+AFC Government which among its first acts, restored the Independence of the Judiciary by passing Legislation to empower them to determine their own budget without any direction from the Government, a triumph for the Rule of Law.

He pointed out that “the APNU+AFC Government in an attempt to end  the practice of acting in both offices of Chancellor and Chief Justice, put before the now Leader of the Opposition the names of the persons currently occupying these positions, with the expressed intention to confirm them as Chancellor and Chief Justice and he refused, thus continuing the trend he started as President.”

The Attorney General told the House that this government will continue its work to restore the independence of the Judiciary in Guyana.

Synieka Thorne.

Image: Keno George.

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