UWI lecturer: Some appellate rulings questionable; Roxane George is an exemplar of integrity
By Kurt Campbell
While Guyana’s Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, SC, is being praised for her role in offering sound judicial arbitration during Guyana’s protracted elections in 2020, several rulings handed down by Guyana’s Court of Appeal during that period are now being called into question.
Professor Cynthia Barrow-Giles, who led the supervisory CARICOM Recount Team to Guyana last year, on Thursday said she believes that some of the judgments from the Appellate Court raise questions as to whether the Courts are as independent as they ought to be.
Professor Barrow-Giles, the senior lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI), was at the time discussing a research paper: “The Judiciary and the 2020 Guyana elections” which is part of the Faculty of Law, Cave Hill Campus Working Paper Series.
Her colleague Dr. Ronnie Yearwood believes the concern is proven in the many rulings from the Court of Appeal, which overturned High Court rulings, later being corrected by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
“Some of the judgments out of the Court of Appeal are highly questionable. I don’t want to impute but they are certainly questionable.
“There might be a connection between the appointment process and some of the judgments and we need to ensure the complete separation of powers,” Professor Barrow Giles said.
Yearwood, on the other hand, believes that the Courts were used for policymaking and political battles; he questioned whether politicians took the rulings seriously and genuinely.
He reasoned that the Court has a role to play in ensuring procedural fairness in the electoral process but noted that there is a thin line between ensuring that fairness and becoming arbitrators.
Meanwhile, Professor Barrow-Giles said she was particularly concerned about the manner in which political parties deliberately resorted to the courts to resolve the political issue.
Guyana’s Court of Appeal had delivered several rulings, starting just after the December 2018 No-Confidence Vote and up to days before the delayed August 2, 2020 declaration which called into question the preparation of the elections report by the Chief Elections Officer.
The professor also recognised the work of Justice George and fully endorsed a statement that read: “there was one silver lining behind the entire cloud of the Guyana 2020 election… Roxane George as an exemplar of probity, integrity and independence…without her, I shudder to think where that saga would have ended.”
She described the 2020 general and regional elections in Guyana as one of the most delayed elections globally in terms of declaring a winner.