The quality of Guyanese justice

-On Wordsworth and Floods

Two Fridays ago I admitted being out of my depth when I conceded to being “Perplexed by justice”, in this column.

It is always with respect – and some appropriate references – that I approach the phantasmagoria of the law – truly illusory the body of laws can make true justice appear. (Attorneys, judicial officers and arbiters and students and scholars of law will tell you, I bet, that laws exist for the sake of the greater good of society; that even if laws seem to favour the guilty, if they are applied wisely and even–handedly, they benefit everyone in the end. Huh?)

As I attempt my final musings on this lofty subject of justice, I have to ask: does justice have “quality”? Can it be watered down?  And does the Caribbean or Guyana have a particular brand of justice?  Do our socio-political, cultural norms influence basic law?

Poor me…

Sharma’s “Justice”
vs the real thing

When the colourful CN Sharma broadcast his call-in TV sessions “Justice For All”, too many ordinary, troubled citizens were made to feel that they could order justice, as they do with mauby, tennis-roll and cheese.

Somehow the housewife perceived “justice” as trial and decisions in her favour only.  Guyanese must understand that justice is fairness.  And in our under-siege system it is still based on the practice, application and interpretation of appropriate laws at our disposal.  (Should there be any place for traditional “custom-and-practice”?)

Definitions for justice range from “justness, fair-play and the process of finding out what or who is right or wrong, according to law, morality or even culture”, to the grander concepts which a full study or research on the internet will throw up, like “A concept of moral rightness, based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion or equity”. Fair hearings by Courts of Law, Community/ Religious Arbiters or other agreed-upon tribunals may apportion penalties or relief to actors looking for justice.  In its simplest denominator then, “justice is the act of being just and/or fair”.

Dissertations may flow from the larger, deeper concepts of retributive, restorative, distributive, utilitarian, national and divine justice.

And that‘s only a start of such a study.  We might not even be considering crime.

I’ll never pretend that I have the time (or ability?) to delve into these profundities related to Justice.  My real citizen-layman’s concern is the current unfortunate situation – perceived and real – whereby Guyana’s legal justice system is viewed as in a state of suspicion, deterioration, even near collapse.  If Guyanese society cannot boast the best of the Rule of Law, what is left?

*****
How Guyana
is viewed…

I know I’ve wondered this in print before: Why does our Chancellor or Attorney-General never respond to the Americans whose frequent reports say to the world that “…Guyana has seen its political and Judicial infrastructure impacted by Narco influence…”

And that though Guyana has passed several acts to address money-laundering, interception of communications, certain criminal procedures “to boost investigative capacities”, even updated Extra-dition/Fugitive Offenders Laws, there are usually no convictions in Guyanese Courts of Law.

The foreigners also complain that despite Guyana being signatory to certain international conventions and with local legislation available even properties of corrupt convicts are never touched. And another Geneva-based Study just found that Guyana’s “slow and overburdened justice system” is one “enabler” of organized criminal activity here.

Like the local female judge last week, the foreigners speak of “judges’ benches being poor and under-staffed”. Jeez!  It’s like I’m reading about Mexico or Africa.
I suppose that our judicial hierarchy execs don’t respond because the criticisms are manifestly accurate, or it is conventional to be “above” the fray (?). Even our Bar Associa-tion comes off as lame or very selective, when it comes to championing the cause of improving the status of our Courts.

Ironically – or pointedly – I have read of a type of Justice Improve-ment  Project, funded in the main by the IDB.  Is that the programme headed by Justice Claudette Singh? What’s the status?  Perhaps we’ll be granted the courtesy of an update (?).

******
Wordsworth, water,
floods…

For months I wanted to trivialize a most serious issue having to do with our national welfare.

There is a National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).  That group is tasked with minimizing floods and their effects.  I doubt that they could actually eliminate flooding in this low, blighted place. Do they actually irrigate our farmlands scientifically?

Then there is an East Demerara Conservancy set up.  I tend to be cynical about these bodies as I see what woes beset folks when the rains taunt them.  I tire of the explanations as the waters prevail but I cannot but hope they succeed.  In spite of allegations of corruption-and Mr Ceres’ warnings.

My trivia has to do with the CEO of the NDIA.  His quaint name! Lionel Wordsworth! I think of the original Wordsworth, my late friend Mc Andrew and the Naipaulian character, Black Wordsworth, the “poet”.

I’ve always wondered about Drainage-and-Irrigation Words-worth.  What a great task and responsibility he has!  You understand the scope of this man’s mandate as it affects our homes and local foods?

I know he became very upset when some journalist questioned his ability to purchase or build a grand house. Now he is reportedly, “clamping down” on certain villagers who are scheming, allegedly, to obtain, fraudulently, thousands of dollars from a Community Drainage and Irrigation Pro-gramme – the CDIP.

From Linden to the East Coast of Demerara Mr Wordsworth’s Community D and I “workers” or their supervisors seem to want money but do not clear and clean to prevent accumulation and flooding.  (Poor (??))  Mr Wordsworth…

And hey! So you know that five hundred million dollars ($500M) is set aside for community drainage and irrigation this year?

Mighty important is Mr Wordsworth…

*****
Ponder, consider…

*1)  Our Guyana Power and Light has achieved ISO Standards and certification!  Believe it or leave it!

*2)  Those Americans have added the Roman Catholic Vatican – the Pope’s Holy See State – to their money-laundering centres list!

*3)  A Parbattie Ranglall from the West Demerara is coming closest to how to confront the scourge of domestic violence.  She is creating foot-soldier ladies in the villages.  Besides self-employment skills they must develop community intelligence networks. Be pre-emptive shrewdly.  Who is likely to abuse who?  Discuss.

*4)  How is Minister Rohee’s polygraph sets and public surveillance cameras coming along?  Working order?  Effective?

*5)  Former Attorney-General Ramson’s letter reminded me about a major incident of politics in cricket.  That’s when Forbes Burnham caused an English tour to be aborted here.
No South African welcome then!

Then he brought back Clive Lloyd from Australia. The rest is/was history!

‘Til next week!

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