A $25 million mediation centre will be constructed at New Amsterdam, Berbice during this year and millions more will be spent on the rehabilitation and maintenance of court facilities, Finance Minister Ashni Singh announced on Friday during his budget presentation.
In this year’s budget the government had set aside $2.1 billion for the justice sector, a sizeable increase from the $1.7 billion allocated last year.
Singh, in his presentation on the justice sector, told the National Assembly that “the modernisation of our laws, systems and facilities that support the effective functioning of our judiciary continues to take precedence in the government’s development agenda”. He said that as acknowledged before, the effectiveness of the justice administration system is “inextricably interlinked” with the performance of the security sector and efforts to modernise both sectors will.
He recalled that key achievements last year included the progress made towards completing the revision of the Laws of Guyana for the period to 2010 and the compilation of the law reports for the period to 2007. These along with several pieces of legislation enacted previously such as the Time Limit for Judicial Decisions Act, which imposes a time limit on judges for writing up their decisions, the Evidence Act which allows for the admissibility of audio visual testimony, and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act which provides for the settlement of disputes out of courts, Singh said, have the potential to enable a more efficient and effective judicial process.
This year, he said, the continued modernisation of facilities will ensure greater geographical access by making court buildings more available and user friendly. “Over $300 million will be spent on the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of court facilities including the rehabilitation of Georgetown Magis-trate’s Court, completion of magistrate’s courts in Wales, Mibicuri, Lethem, and Linden,” he said explaining that the latter will realise the opening of a new magisterial district permitting a range of actions including the filing of court matters and the deposit and collection of child support, which currently require residents in Linden to travel to West Demerara. “This is yet another example of our government improving access to services and in particular to justice,” he stated.
Additionally, efforts will be redoubled during the year to accelerate the reduction of backlogged cases, he said.