Impressed CCJ President offers high grades for Guyana’s Chancellor, Chief Justice
By Kurt Campbell
Justice Adrian Saunders, the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – Guyana’s highest Court of Appeal – on Tuesday said he was impressed with the leadership in the country’s judiciary.
The statements came during a virtual launch of a revised and modernised Code of Ethics for Judicial Officers. According to Justice Saunders, Guyana’s court system continues to demonstrate its commitment to pursuing judicial excellence and being a responsive institution.
“The indications are evident and have been noticed by us at the Caribbean Court of Justice,” the Jurist noted.
To make his point, the CCJ President cited the efficient disposition of cases, elimination of backlogs, embrace and deployment of technological innovations, the premium placed on training and the employment of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
“Congratulations on a job well done.
“Guyana’s judiciary like the country itself is on the move and the signs are there for all to see,” Justice Saunders added.
He singled out Chancellor (ag) Yonnette Cummings-Edwards and Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George for commendations in this regard.
“Their leadership has been exemplary throughout the region and beyond all locals can see the results for themselves,” the CCJ President said.
Impressed with the new code of ethics which offers an expanded definition for judicial officers, Justice Saunders said that the Global Judiciary Integrity Network is anxious to see Guyana become one of its training sites.
To this end, he noted his intention to explore the possibility of using Guyana as a model judiciary throughout the world.
Again, commendations flowed for the leadership of the judiciary for their grounded contemporary guidance. Guyana first developed a code of ethics to guide the conduct of judicial officers both in their professional and personal lives in 2003 under the direction of the then Chancellor Justice Desiree Bernard.
“Every judiciary worth its salt needs to develop and maintain judicial ethics,” Justice Saunders posited.
But he raised objection to the castigation of the reputation of hard-working judges and magistrates across the region where some seek to create the impression that there is a serious problem of rogue judicial officers.
With his 40 years of experience in the court system across the region, the CCJ President believes he is in a fairly good position to give a firm opinion that there is a decent level of integrity that exists among the vast majority of Caribbean judges.
“It frustrates and upsets me that one still hears unproven allegations of widespread malfeasants among Caribbean judges.
“Those who peddle this view, when you confront them and seek particular details to support the damning indictment, you get…sometimes a grudging retraction,” he reasoned.
The Jurist said casting doubt on the professionalism of judges is a tool that losing litigants use to persuade themselves that their loss was unfair.
Meanwhile, in her remarks, Chancellor Cummings-Edwards said it is for this reason that judicial officers, who face ethical questions in their professional and personal lives, need to be guided by a body of values and rules.
“The Code of Ethics underscores the fact that an independent and impartial judiciary is a fundamental pillar of the rule of law and good governance,” she said.
This revised Code of Ethics captures a wider range of judicial personnel involved in the delivery and administration of justice. It expands on the range of judicial officers to include Commissioners of Title, Registrar, Deputy Registrar and Assistant Registrars.
This Code of Ethics builds on the original Code of Conduct of 2003, the Bangalore Principles, the Global Judicial Integrity Network, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and regional and international Codes of Ethics.
It has taken into account new and emerging issues such as social media and the role of judicial officers demitting office. The principles expressed in the Code of Ethics are intended to assist judicial officers with ethical and professional issues as well as give members of the public a better insight and understanding of the judicial role. It also gives an insight into judicial deliberation, when confronting ethical and professional considerations.