The matter of the appointment of a substantive chancellor of the judiciary is one of public interest. Whatever the outcome (over which we have no control), we wish to put on record the following in relation to Acting Chancellor Madam Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Acting Chief Justice Madam Roxane George:
- Both have demonstrated, particularly since their acting appointments, integrity and independence in their decisions in constitutional and citizens’ rights cases and in upholding the rule of law, and have clearly not allowed governmental expectations to influence their decisions.
- In an ideological and structural context where gender discrimination and inequality in Guyana are too often the norm, it would be disappointing if either or both of these women jurists had applied for the posts of chancellor and chief justice and had not been recommended by the advisory panel appointed by the president. We are not aware of other acting appointments in which the holders have not been substantively confirmed and have been effectively demoted in preference for someone else. It seems that the notion that women are dispensable and should be ready to step aside for a man when asked to do so is alive and well in Guyana, despite all the rhetoric about gender equality.
- The appointment of Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Roxane George as acting chancellor and chief justice gave hope and encouragement to women and girls that survivors of the brutality and trauma of sexual assault, sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence would receive the justice, fairness and dignity that they deserve. The non-confirmation of their appointments will be a blow and setback to them.
- We salute Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Roxane George for their energy and the positive changes they have made towards the improvement and modernisation of the justice system in Guyana.
Karen de Souza