Renowned Guyanese jurist Dr. Mohamed Shahabuddeen SC, who served as the Attorney General of Guyana as well as a judge on the International Criminal Court, has died.
Shahabuddeen, 86, who passed away in Canada, where he lived, was yesterday remembered for his contributions to the legal fraternity.
“He was a man of great intellect and tremendous scholarship and he is one of the greatest lawyers Guyana has produced. He is among the top three or four that Guyana and the Caribbean region have produced,” Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran told Sunday Stabroek of Shahabuddeen.
Ramkarran recalled his involvement in the case of Hope v New Guyana. “It was a case that was very important in terms of the press freedom in Guyana… he did that and few other important cases but not a great many,” he said, while adding that Shahabuddeen’s most significant contributions to the legal profession were his writing and his administration in the government service as the Solicitor General and the AG.
He also said that it was “a great shame that he was not appointed the first head of the Caribbean Court of Justice, a post for which he was available.”
Ramkarran expressed sympathy to all of Shahabuddeen’s relatives and friends and said that “his name will live on in the annals of the legal profession in Guyana.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP), in a statement last evening, said that President David Granger extended heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Justice Shahabuddeen.
The statement said that Justice Mohamed Shahabuddeen will be remembered for his distinguished service as an eminent Judge of the International Court of Justice, lawyer, public servant, politician and diplomat.
Born on October 7th, 1931, Shahabuddeen graduated from the University of London with a Bachelor of Law Degree in 1953. In 1958, he earned his Masters of Law, in 1970 he earned his Doctor of Philosophy and in 1986 the title of Doctor of Law, the statement said.
It noted that Justice Shahabuddeen began his public service as a Magistrate before joining the Chambers of the Attorney General in 1959. In 1962, he was appointed Solicitor General, a post he held with distinction until 1973, when he was elevated to the position of Attorney General. He served in that capacity from 1978 to 1987. In 1983, he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Vice President of Guyana.
From 1988 to 1997, he served as a Judge of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the statement said, before adding that subsequently he was Judge and twice Vice President of the Yugoslavia Tribunal until 2009. Additionally, he had been an Arbiter in the International Criminal Court, also in The Hague, since 1997, and the Centre for International Arbitration in Cairo. In January, 2009 he was chosen as a Judge of the International Criminal Court.
Justice Shahabuddeen, the MoTP said, authored several books, including ‘The Legal System of Guyana’ (Georgetown, 1973); ‘Constitutional Development in Guyana, 1621-1978’ (Georgetown, 1978); ‘Nationalisation of Guyana Bauxite’ (1981); and ‘From Plantocracy to Nationalisation’ (1983).
In recognition of the distinction and eminence achieved by him in the service of Guyana at the regional and international levels and in the fields of law, diplomacy and politics, he was awarded by the Government of Guyana the Order of Excellence in 1988, the Order of Roraima in 1980 and the Cacique’s Crown of Honour in 1970.
He was a father of three.