Minister of State, Joseph Harmon yesterday commissioned a $99M, fully-furnished modern living quarters facility for judges and magistrates at Suddie, Essequibo Coast.
According to a release from the Ministry of the Presidency, he said that the project is part of Government’s investment towards the improved delivery of judicial services.
Speaking to members of the judiciary, regional officials and other special invitees present at the opening ceremony, Harmon said that the delivery of justice, is an issue, which the Government takes seriously.
“I believe that is a very important step… The location of these premises in immediate proximity of the court is commendable as it removes the need of these officials to commute from Anna Regina to this location, thereby saving precious time and money and enable them to discharge their functions with ease. The transition of accommodation of our judicial officers to close proximity to the place of work and circumstances that are more comfortable should not be underestimated. The discharge of their functions as adjudicators of the law require clear thinking and legal writing that must be facilitated by provision of the best possible living and working environment…,” Harmon said.
The Minister said that accommodations and suitable working conditions are even more important as there are a vast number of women serving in the judicial system and as such, their welfare must be taken into account.
“Even though our female judicial officers are no less competent and efficient than their male counterparts, they are still our gentler side and their welfare, therefore, require greater care and consideration. I have no doubt that these facilities will bring a greater willingness by the officials who will be accommodated here, to provide quality service in Essequibo and also contribute to higher level of efficiency to discharge their functions,” he said, according to the release.
Harmon noted that the realisation of this project is a manifestation of government’s commitment to addressing the improvement and enhancement of the working conditions of the three branches of government.
“These services include fast and reliable internet access for proper communication and research that are so essential for such matters as case preparations and judgement and all other support which the judiciary requires. It is still not good enough that citizens of Bartica have to travel to the Essequibo Coast to receive some judicial services. These services should be provided to our citizens with the least possible inconvenience,” the Minister added.
Chancellor of the Judiciary (acting), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards in here remarks said that the project, which began under the auspices of Justice Carl Singh, former Chancellor of the Judiciary, will assist greatly in the provision of judicial services on the Essequibo Coast.
“As I recall it, in the 70s to the 80s just across where the old Suddie High Court was, were quarters for judges and magistrates were given places all around. That building was old dilapidated and as a result, quarters had to be found again for staff here. Then after that, accommodations were found for judges in Onderneeming and that compound housed the judge, the prosecutor, the clerk and the court marshal. We would commute from there to Court and then eventually we moved from Onderneeming and went to Anna Regina but the meantime the magistrates were itinerant because they were in Zorg and then they were at Johanna Cecelia and they were other places. Some magistrates stayed with relatives some were lucky to have government buildings at their disposal,” she stated.
With the project coming to fruition, Justice Cummings-Edwards said that there is now accommodation in a central location.
“The commute will not be anymore, because judges will just have to walk across to the courtroom which is just next door. And in that regard, we know that more will be given to you here is Essequibo in terms of the dispensation of justice. We know that judges and judicial officers work very hard and they have to leave their homes and come here and that is not a complaint. They do not complain but they come willingly and it is only fitting that we make this location where they will be, as comfortable as possible. Having left their family, their pets and their comforts, they should come as close as possible to what they would have left at home even as they serve you,” she said.
The project began on November 21, 2016 and was scheduled to be completed in eleven months. However it was completed in the period nine months within the allocated budget.