Find mechanism to break deadlock in appointments of CJ, Chancellor – CCJ President

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By Bibi Khatoon

President of Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Justice Adrian Saunders believes there needs to be some measure in place to break the deadlock between the President and Opposition Leader in the appointment a substantive Chancellor and Chief Justice.

The CCJ President spoke with the local media corps on Thursday afternoon at the sidelines of a Business Luncheon held by the Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association’s (GMSA).

Currently, Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards is the acting Chancellor while Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire is the acting Chief Justice.

President of Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Justice Adrian Saunders speaking with local media operatives

Guyana has been without a substantive Chancellor since Justice Desiree Bernard demitted office in 2005 and without a substantive Chief Justice since 2001. Justice Bernard went on to be a Judge at the CCJ.

Justice Saunders, like the past CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron, said the issue is of serious concern.

“Quite frankly, it is not right,” he said.

He acknowledged that the Constitution of Guyana requires a consensus from the Head of State and the Opposition Leader –something which has proven to be difficult over the years –before the substantive appointments can be made.

“That formula is always likely to throw up this kind of situation and so perhaps some attention should be given to whether that is an appropriate formula, or if the formula is to be kept what other mechanisms should be put in place to break a deadlock,” the CCJ President said.

Article 127 of the Constitution states: “The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.”

While he acknowledged that it is not for him to decide what should be done, Justice Saunders pointed out that the situation has implications for the proper running of the Guyana courts and therefore affects the administration of justice.

“Ultimately it is a matter for Guyana’s political directorate and I just hope that steps will be taken to resolve that issues,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and President David Granger initially met on January 3, 2018, to discuss the substantive appointment the Chancellor and Chief Justice.

However, Jagdeo on February 07, 2018 rejected the President’s nomination of Justice Kenneth Benjamin and Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards as the Chancellor and Chief Justice respectively.

The Opposition Leader the decision was made after the requisite due diligence but committed to continuous engagement on the matter.

President Granger on June 07 said he is not prepared to throw his nominations “out of the window.”

There has been no other meeting on the matter since.

The Head of State and Opposition Leader met up to July 19 to discuss the appointment of the Public Service Commission and the Police Service Commission, whose lives ended months ago.

While the Leader of the Opposition raised several other topical issues which were later disclosed to the media, the judicial appointments were not discussed.

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