Civil engagements will form an integral part of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) development agenda, in an effort to expand access to and strengthen awareness of the judicial process.
CCJ’s President, Justice Adrian Saunders has made it clear that the court will embark on several projects to promote public awareness of the legal system.
Justice Saunders was speaking during the opening ceremony for the second itinerant hearing of the CCJ in Guyana on Wednesday, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).
He emphasised that these sittings are crucial to the perception of justice, and play an essential role in sensitising the public to the functions of the court.
“A regional apex court cannot function as effectively if it is perceived as a remote, brooding infallible omnipresence. Judges must avail themselves of appropriate occasions to interface directly with key stakeholders. Throughout the region, people from all walks of life need to have the opportunity to see, in flesh and blood, those who pass ultimate judgment on them,” Justice Saunders explained.
To this end, the CCJ will implement a number of activities to increase public awareness about the role of the court, and its methods, and also provide insight into the position of the court in the operations of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
In particular, these activities will build on the ongoing project developed with the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (CARIFORUM), under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), which called for attention to people-centred development.
“This project aims to, specifically in Guyana, sensitise the judiciary, the bar, and other stakeholders about the CSME and the role of the court and national courts and tribunals within that CSME regime,” the judge stated.
The CCJ President added, “We will also engage with civil society and the public, including a session with students from the University of Guyana. Over the next week, we have scheduled a compact and robust schedule, and we look forward to the mutual exchanges and learnings that will no doubt ensue from all of these interactions, as we discuss matters concerning the administration of justice and how we can serve the people of Guyana and the community with excellence.”
Reminding that since its establishment in 2008, the CCJ has presided over 111 matters for Guyana alone, Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards stressed that Guyana’s legal landscape has been significantly transformed through its processes.
“This court is known to be revolutionary, forward-thinking, and even groundbreaking in some of its decisions that have been handed down over the years. The judges have had their dockets dominated by a number of subject areas including criminal law, land law, constitutional law, and a number of election cases from Guyana. It is evident that Guyana has contributed significantly to the development of the CCJ and its jurisprudence,” she said.
She added that physical presence is an important component of the delivery of justice.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George emphasised the importance of engendering public trust and confidence in the justice system in upholding the rule of law.
Over the next two days, the court will preside over five cases, two of which are from Guyana.
SOURCE: Department of Public Information (Guyana)