Public legal education ensures confidence in legal systems

─ AG Williams tells Impact Justice Public Lecture

─ urges regional govts to devote resources to public legal education

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, August 4, 2019

Public legal education and information will ensure greater public confidence in the Caribbean region’s legal systems, Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Basil Williams, SC., has stated.

The AG was speaking last Wednesday at a public lecture at the Guyana Marriot Hotel, hosted by the Canadian Government’s Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project. The lecture reviewed the recommendations made in 2018 Survey of Legal Education.

According to the AG, public legal education strengthens the region’s justice systems and promotes citizens’ access to justice. He said the legal systems in the Caribbean remain forces of societal integration.

“Each acts like a gel, binding society, regulating social relations and fostering cooperation.  Without a system of rules, regulations and sanctions, these societies would dishevel and descend into anarchy.”

With citizens being an integral part of the region’s justice systems, the Attorney General proffered that public legal education can help protect citizens.

“Public legal education and information are public services which can protect persons who are victims of abuse or vulnerable to such abuse. It can provide them with the know-how on how to apply for protective orders to restrain their abusers,” he told the forum.  

The Legal Affairs Minister urged regional governments to devote more resources to public legal education and information. He said it is a fact that resources for such are limited and Caribbean justice systems have to compete with other sectors for scarce budgetary resources.

Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Basil Williams, SC

However, much can be done with little, the Attorney General said.

In Guyana, he noted that the government has been working along with several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations to provide citizens with public legal information. These include:

  • A series entitled, ‘The Law and You’ produced by the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, and which provides empowering information on citizen’s rights and other legal concerns;
  • A Household Guide to the Domestic Violence Act, produced by Red Thread;
  • A Guide to the Juvenile Justice Act 2018, produced by the Ministry of Public Security and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF);
  • Handbook on the Sexual Offences Act, produced by Help and Shelter in conjunction with international partners.

The AG said Guyana welcomes the Final Report on the Survey of Legal Education in CARICOM Member States’ prepared by the IMPACT Justice project. The findings of that report, he noted, will inform national and regional policy approaches to legal education and information.

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