The basis for improving the administration of justice exists
This causes great sufferings.
Indeed, it is because the great lag in time that is so prevalent that some unscrupulous people use the Courts as a delaying mechanism to perpetuate wrongs and advantages in the society. Even this regime, I believe is guilty of this practice.
The law that was passed was never intended to be a means for the executive to administrate the judiciary. It was for the judiciary itself to have the tools to ensure that these practices are put to an end so that justice could be delivered in a timely fashion.
Unfortunately, that is still not happening. The judiciary, it appears, is still largely not delivering timely decisions.
As a result, it is having an impact on our economy. Take for instance, the case of the sixty farmers at Seafield, West Coast Berbice. Their land leases were revoked by this government by force and the farmers were evicted from the fields. This was a most unlawful and vindictive act on the part of the regime.
They went to Court and the matter took a long time. Indeed, two sets of farmers were affected in identical ways and the cases were heard by two different judges, one judge ruled eventually in their favour. The other judge is still to give a ruling.
In the meantime, the gov- ernment has appealed the one case where a decision was made. Most likely to delay and to punish the farmers. That appeal is yet to be heard.
Meanwhile, the lands are idle. Farmers, and their families, are suffering serious loss of income. The country is suffering due to fall in income, purchasing power and loss of tax revenues. Production is, therefore, down
Sir Byron made several suggestions to assist in some of these cases. He spoke about the use of technology to surmount these issues.
Of course, he did not know of the efforts of the PPP/C administration in this area.
In one project, this was proposed and was being funded. Equipment was bought to record and transcribe texts. In that period it did not come into effect because the Judicial administration felt that it could not be sustained. Much time was lost.
It was revisited again during the 2011 to 2015 period. This time, more equipment was brought for three Courts to be used as a pilot project. The government trained twenty persons to operate and maintain the equipment.
The idea here was to have evidence recorded and transcribed in less than twenty-four hours. That would have ended the practice of judges having to write verbatim evidence taken in Court. It would have saved much time and money of poor people.
Unfortunately, disagreements arose as to who should employ the staff. One view was the Judicial Service Commission wanted that role. The Public Service Commission (PSC) objected, pointing out that the rest of the staff were PSC appointments.
At the same time, the administration was focused on trying to overcome the resistance to the attacks of the APNU and AFC opposition to the Anti- Money Laundering Bill, the Amaila Falls Hydro Project among other things.
As a result, the matter was not resolved in time.
Sir Byron also spoke about the need for e-filing; I am surprised at that.
I am aware that the PPP/C administration had employ four consultants to design such a system. Equipment was procured and set up to allow that to function.
The idea here was to stop the practice where files and documents were disappearing and cases affected by that. A lot of injustice took place due to that practice.
If the e-filing system is not operational now, then that should be investigated and corrected now.
I am not a lawyer and I confess that I do not know the detailed day- to-day operations of the Courts. However, I am aware of two notable exceptions, as far as writing decisions is concerned.
Former Chief Justice (ag,) Ian Chang, and former Appeal Court Judge, Charles Ramson, distinguished themselves in this area. They were prompt in writing up their decisions. That saved the state, the persons involved and the Courts money and time.
They may have been more such judges, but I am not aware of them. I, therefore, stand to be corrected here.
I have also noticed that the present Chief Justice (ag), Ms. Roxanne George, is also prompt in giving her decisions in writing. This is a positive sign and I hope she will continue doing so.
In conclusion, I would say that the foundation for dealing with the issues raised by Sir Dennis Byron exists. Successive PPP/C administrations have laid a solid foundation that should be developed and built upon.
The situation must not be allowed to retrogress as is happening in the economy. On the contrary, it should be improved.
This is very vital for the social and economic progress of our country.