New Law Reform Commission to tackle Guyana’s archaic laws


The members of Guyana’s first-ever Law Reform Commission were installed on Wednesday, paving the way for the much-needed review of the country’s old and outdated legislation.

Chairman of the Commission retired Justice of Appeal B.S Roy took his oath of office at the Office of the President along with members Teni Housty, Clarissa Riehl, Brian O’ Toole, Emily Dodson, Roopnarine Satram and Deenawatie Panday.

The life of the Commission will expire after three years.

Chairman of the Law Reform Commission retired Justice of Appeal B.S Roy taking his oath of office (Photo: News Room/ August 11, 2021)

The work of the Commission, according to President Irfaan Ali is vital to ensuring that government develops a systematic approach to legal reforms and also ensure priority is given to establishing suited programmes for those reforms.

He added that the Commission is also integral in ensuring that Guyana keeps abreast with emerging and evolving trends in the world.

“The Law Commission will ensure that our country’s legislation does not stagnate or become or become backward,” the Head of State told those gathered.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali (Photo: News Room/ August 11, 2021)

With society ever-expanding and not remaining “stotic”, the law as a central pillar of society must also be updated regularly, in order to keep abreast with social changes, the President explained.

“Legal reforms must enhance and not inhibit human rights. Legal reforms must, as a necessity, empower citizens and protect them from arbitrariness.

“It must foster and facilitate not frustrate development and legal reform help build greater trust between our system citizens and our justice system,” the Head of State said.

Further, he added that it equally must be reformed to fill gaps in the country’s legislative architecture, and harmonize Guyana’s laws with international obligations while also being responsive to the demands of modern justice.

The Law Reform Commission is an advisory body to the State and can recommend to the Government of Guyana amendments to existing laws, new legislation, and the repeal of existing legislation.

The Commission was established after consideration of recommendations received from the various stakeholder organizations, consulted pursuant to the provisions of the Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2021, and in accordance with the said Act.

The President explained that the work of the Commission will be appended to both the Executive Government and the National Assembly.

Law Reform has been a integral part of the government’s campaign and according to President Ali, is a “priority area” for his administration and this was demonstrated by the swiftness with which the government moved to amend the Law Reform Commission Act.

The establishment of a Law Reform Commission is part of a fundamental component of the US$ 8 million-dollar Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded Support for the Justice System Programme. The IDB shall fund the functioning of this Commission for a specified period and the Government of Guyana is expected to take over funding thereafter.

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