“Use gender neutral language” – Counselor, Development Cooperation, Canadian High Commission urges IMPACT JUSTICE Committee

DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT JUSTICE) project is currently hosting its committee meetings on the legal profession legislation and model business at the Pegasus Hotel in Guyana.

Jan Sheltinga, Counselor, Development Cooperation, High Commission of Canada to Guyana and Suriname.

Counselor, Development Cooperation High Commission of Canada to Guyana and Suriname Jan Sheltinga, commended the progress made in drafting the legislation. The Counselor speaking on behalf of the Canadian High Commissioner urged the legal committees to “pay particular attention to the use of plain modern and relatively simple gender-neutral language.”  This is to ensure that the legislation is easily understood by the persons likely to use it, she explained.

“The Canadian government in June 2017, adopted a Feminist International Assistance Policy which recognises that supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is the best way to build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world”, the Counselor highlighted.

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General(SC)Basil Williams said in brief remarks that, “Government is committed to supporting the IMPACT Justice and improving the region’s justice system”. He added that, “The Justice Sectors must provide fair and effective services that promote access to justice for all.”

Minister Williams pointed out that, “Access to justice is paramount to upholding the rule of law. In its absence,

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams speaking at the opening of the committee’s meeting, last evening.

arbitrariness thrives and persons find themselves unable to have their voices heard or exercise their rights.”

The Attorney General highlighted the IMPACT Justice activities in Guyana since the commencement of this project in 2015.

Improving access to Legal materials: “One of the major deficiencies within the Justice sector across the region is shortage of legal materials in an effort to address this deficiency,” Minister Williams explained, the project has commenced a project to improve the law collection at the libraries of the universities within the region and train library staff to improve their efficiency.

The University of Guyana (UG) library benefited from two hundred and forty-four books, while books on oil and gas were donated to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to assist in the development of that sector.

Staff training: Staff of the UG library, Attorney-General’s Chambers and the National Library participated in a workshop for library assistants in November 2016, which was organised by IMPACT Justice.

Alternative Dispute Resolution ADR training: Another aspect of improving access to justice is increasing the knowledge and use of ADR mechanisms across the region, the Attorney General explained that, “ADR is usually thought to be a cheaper and faster alternative to resolving disputes than using litigation. It is therefore paramount that there be increased training and public awareness of this mechanism so that persons are sensitised to ADR and its benefits so that its use may be increased.”

IMPACT Justice commenced training persons for Community Mediation in October 2016 and would have conducted several training sessions with Guyanese from different areas in the Justice sector. Mediators were trained in the various Regions with several service providers including, Police officers, Probation officers, Childcare Protection officers, Social Services officers, and Community leaders participating.

The opening of the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT JUSTICE) project committee meeting on the legal profession legislation and model business.

Model legislation: IMPACT Justice also drafted and is in the process of drafting another model legislation for CARICOM Member States in several areas which include major organised crime, sexual harassment, Community Mediation, model business names and trademarks among others.

Minister Williams pointed out that representatives of the Attorney-General’s Chambers sit on most of these committees established to prepare drafting instructions for the model legislation.

The Model Legal Profession Bill is designed to strengthen the disciplinary procedure and accounting regimes of the legal profession and introduce continuing legal professional development for attorneys at law. The Model Business Names Bill is intended to replace and harmonise the business names legislation across the region.

The IMPACT Justice programme is a five-year regional justice sector reform project which is being implemented from within the Caribbean Law Institute Centre, of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. The project is funded by the Canadian Government, at a cost of CAD$19.2M.



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