The law cannot be a secret, or it will be unfair, and will become a weapon of tyranny available to the minority, who can access the law, to be used against the majority, who cannot. So the content of the law, and the content of legislation passed by our Parliament, ought to be freely and readily available to all citizens. Further, it is the mandate of the Government of the day to ensure that the law of the land is freely and readily available to its citizens. The importance of this principle is recognized in all true democracies. Legislation passed in democracies worldwide is increasingly made freely available online; even judicial decisions are becoming more accessible so that everyone can be informed.
Here in Guyana, the Inter-American Development Bank, in line with that trend of thinking, gifted a sum of money to the Government to collate and print into a single edition the Laws of Guyana, so that the various piecemeal legislative enactments passed by Parliament over the years (since the last consolidated edition in 1977) could be catalogued and indexed. This process is now complete, and our country now boasts an up-to-date edition of the Laws of Guyana. It is an important and praiseworthy development.
Writing the Preface to the new edition, the Honourable Anil Nandlall, our Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, articulates on these principles in glowing terms. He quotes Thomas Paine, writing in 1776, that “For as in absolute governments the King is Law, so in free countries the Law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other,” and puts forward a sentiment which I so strongly endorse that I ask your patience to repeat verbatim the words of the Honourable Attorney-General:
“Making the law equally accessible to the poor and the powerless as it is to the rich and powerful is a fundamental prerequisite to the creation of a just and orderly society. These are the sentiments which have inspired this initiative.” (i.e. the new edition of the Laws)
Having been able to produce this edition free of cost, thanks to the generosity of the IDB, the Honourable Attorney-General and our Government have determined to offer the new edition of the Laws of Guyana for sale to the public at a price of $825,000, (eight hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars). I would like to encourage members of the public, especially those numbered among the poor and powerless within our citizenry who have inspired this worthy initiative, to trot down to the Attorney-General’s Chambers in Carmichael Street, Georgetown to purchase their own personal copy of the Laws of Guyana.