The Justice Improvement Programme has failed to deliver in key areas and the improvement of the justice system this year spoken about by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh is a “bluff,” according to APNU parliamentarian James Bond.
Bond, during his contribution to the 2013 Budget debate last Thursday, lambasted the administration for failing to effect any real change in the justice sector even as he said that there is nothing for the poor and young people to dream of in the budget.
The budget brings some relief to the middle-class but forgets the poor and the young only dream of getting “the education they need and then leave,” Bond said.
According to the attorney, when Singh regaled the House about strides made in the judicial sector he neglected to provide a barometer as to how far the country has come based on the Justice Sector Reform Strategy for 2006 to 2010. “The majority of goals set have not been achieved and we have had seven years already to implement a five year plan,” the parliamentarian charged.
Bond charged that the IDB-funded Justice Improve-ment Programme has also failed to deliver in key areas.
He argued that the administration has neglected to promote public oversight and awareness of the little reforms taking place in the sector.
He said that Singh was “bluffing” when he said that “more judges, better trained police prosecutors, increase capacity and expansion of the office of the DPP into the administrative regions and better sourced magisterial districts all have potential of significantly improving the functioning of the criminal justice system in 2013.”
“This statement…is all hype but no substance. I dare the Honourable Minister to deny that it is the aim of the justice sector reform strategy and the modernization of justice administration project to phase out police prosecution to, among other things, improve efficiency and competence of the criminal justice system…,” he said.
Bond pointed out that judges and magistrates are “still writing their fingers off” and they are still without research assistants but are expected to dream. “The equipment needed for voice compilation rests in a dusty room but the judges and magistrates must dream,” he said, adding that the sector is a long way off from the full complement of judges and magistrates.
He noted that dreams would not fix the problems in the country but rather execution of visions, will.
Further, Bond said that it is no dream for men and women to be locked away for 72 hours when there is no allegation made against them, it is no dream that most of the courts are crammed and exposed to noise nuisance and it is no dream that the incidents of police brutality are high.
The greatest proportion of the Guyanese population lives in squalor and poverty, he added.
“We don’t (want) wishy-washy watered down pipe dreams, we need comprehensive vision for our country that engages and benefits every single man, woman, girl and boy,” Bond said, adding that there can be no greater indictment on this government than the greater widening of the gaps between the haves and have-nots in Guyana.