Guyanese are watching for the next move in the appointment of judges

Dear Editor,

The judiciary is an extremely important arm of the government. On July 17 the acting Chief Justice will make an important ruling on the criteria for selection of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission. Two days ago eyebrows were raised when the Chief Magistrate read a search warrant in open court.

Guyanese in all walks of life are looking with great concern at what the next move by the Granger administration will be in the appointment of judges. This is important because it is anticipated that in addition to the number of high profile criminal cases pending, more politicians may be brought before the court to answer charges for wrongdoing, and many constitutional issues may come up for determination by the court.

It is a known fact that both the government and the opposition are sensitive about certain issues, especially in dealing with the judiciary.

There is also disagreement between them, hence the reason why Carl Singh and Ian Chang were not confirmed as Chancellor and Chief Justice. This is very unfortunate. However, the Granger administration will get the upper hand that while the opposition has to agree with the confirmation of the two top judicial appointments consent is not required in the appointment of appellate court judges as well as puisne (first instant) judges as well as magistrates. Moreover the Chancellor and Chief Justice can function in an acting capacity for an indefinite period, as in the cases of Justices Singh and Chang.

Judges (other than the Chancellor and Chief Justice) are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JLS) which comprises the acting Chancellor, acting Chief Justice, retired judges Prem Persaud and Lennox Perry, and President of the Public Service Union Patrick Yarde.

Magistrates have the power to adjudicate in criminal cases in which they can impose lengthy sentences and as such the charges against the Rice Board high-ranking officials will be heard by a magistrate since the indictable charges were changed to summary charges.

Yours faithfully,

Oscar Ramjeet  

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