Public unaware of US$8M criminal justice project under management of Legal Affairs Ministry

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A US$8M criminal justice system project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been implemented since 2017 under the management of the Ministry of Legal Affairs but the new subject Minister has revealed that the public is not aware of “its nature or objective.”

A press release on Monday from the chambers of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall noted that he visited the office of the project on Hadfield Street, Georgetown – it is the same building that housed the former Opposition Leader David Granger.

The project is titled “Support for the Criminal Justice System Program.”

“The Attorney General stated that he is pleased that such a project is ongoing in Guyana and expressed his unwavering support to it. However, the Attorney General expressed deep regret that since the commencement of the project in 2017, the public is not aware of its nature, nor objective. Minister Nandlall expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which the project is unfolding and that its impact is not being felt by the people of Guyana,” the press release noted.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall greets an employee at the project site [Photo: Legal Affairs Ministry]
He reminded the staff that the project is funded by a loan that will eventually have to be repaid by the people of Guyana and therefore, in the end, the ultimate beneficiaries of the project are the people of Guyana and that they must strive to ensure that the people reap maximum benefits from this project.

The main objective of the project is “to contribute to the reduction of high concentrations of prison population in Guyana”. The more specific objectives are to:

  1. reduce the proportion of inmates who are pre-trial detainees and;
  2. increase the use of alternative sentencing in the country.

The project also provides a legal aid service. The Attorney General expressed an intention to review the project documents to ensure that the project is being efficiently and effectively managed.

The Attorney General related that a Sentencing Policy is lacking in Guyana but noted that there are Sentencing Guidelines which were drafted under a previous project but never implemented.

In this regard, the Attorney General tasked the team with reviewing and modifying those guidelines, if necessary, so as to avoid duplicity.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall greets an employee at the project site [Photo: Legal Affairs Ministry]
He, further, stated that Guyana is in need of a Bail Act and one is already drafted at the Legislative Drafting Department of the Attorney General Chambers. He urged that this Act be reviewed and updated, if necessary, to avoid wastage of valuable resources.

Notably, the Attorney General expressed the need to have a legal aid programme be grounded on some form of statutory footing and must be nationally oriented and not confined only to Georgetown, as there are people in need of legal aid right across Guyana.

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