Shalimar Ali-Hack celebrated as first Muslim woman to be appointed Senior Counsel

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By Bibi Khatoon

Five newly appointed Senior Counsel were on Friday morning admitted to the Inner Bar at a special sitting of the full court.

Among them was Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, the first Muslim female attorney to be appointed a Senior Counsel in Guyana.

The DPP was admitted to the bar in October 1990. According to Attorney General, Basil Williams, she was the first Muslim Attorney in Guyana to wear the hijab and later the first to also be appointed as DPP.

In presenting his description of her at a special sitting of the Full Court on Friday, the Attorney General said she has “shattered the glass ceiling” not only in her legal profession but also by championing causes relating to women, gender equality and religion.

“I am indeed grateful and elated to stand before this special full court sitting admitted to the Inner bar,” the DPP said in her remarks after her robe was changed.

Specialising in criminal law, she outlined some of the most distinguished cases relating to the narcotics trade and money laundering which she has worked on, noting that she will continue to uphold the rule of law and fight for just causes.

She also pledged to continue to guide the young lawyers.

“To young lawyers, success demands patience,” the DPP said.

Speaking with the media, Mrs Ali-Hack said she hopes her achievement “can inspire them to also practice their religion and practice a profession.”

During her 29 years in the legal profession, the DPP was also influential in the launching of the Sexual Offences Court and the Children’s Court.

Before exiting her profession, the DPP wants to see prisoners treated more humanely.

“I would like to see people coming into contact with the law being treated humanely and having less incidents so we can pride ourselves in implementing the constitutional rights of prisoners,” she told the media.

Ali-Hack along with Senior Counsel, Robert Ramlochan Ramcharran, Carole James-Boston, Stephen Granville Newton Fraser and Rajendra Nath Poonai were all given their silk robes in the presence of Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonnette Cummings-Edwards, Chief Justice Roxane George, Attorney General, Basil Williams, puisne judges and other members of the legal fraternity.

Ramcharran, who was born and raised in Wakenaam was recognised for his work in corporate and criminal law and other areas.

During his speech, he noted that he first started off working as a teacher after which he was a clerk at the Magistrates’ court where he spent four years. Ramcharran then went on to study law and after over 20 years, he is now a Senior Counsel.

Mrs James-Boston is one of the founding members of the Guyana Association of Women’s Lawyers (GAWL) which was founded in 1987 with the primary aim of giving legal advice and assistance to women in the society.

Mr. Fraser specializes in civil and commercial law. Mr Poonai with decades of legal experience is a former executive member of the Guyana Bar Association.

Delivering his remarks, newly appointed President of the Guyana Bar Association, Teni Housty noted that the appointments are a confirmation that there is professional recognition.

Extending congratulations to the Senior Counsel, he noted that there also needs to be transparency in the process of appointing SC. He called for the criteria to be known.

“The process adopted ought not to be cloaked by secrecy,” he said, as it can cast doubt on the appointments.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Roxane George noted that this is the third Full Court sitting to honour the appointments since the practice was resuscitated by President David Granger in 2016.

She explained that the Attorneys will now be given precedence in having their matters called as she urged them to continue being advocates in the various spheres as they work to administer justice.

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