First legal conference opens in G/Town with focus on maintaining ‘organic, nurtured law’

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Members of the legal fraternity must “aggressively” pursue continuous education to keep abreast of new developments and update their knowledge.

This is according to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandall who also believes that in this era of artificial intelligence (AI), it is vital that the judiciary is given the necessary attention, so that judges and magistrates can conclude cases within reasonable time.

“It is incumbent upon us to recognise that we are operating in exceptional circumstances and we are confronting an extraordinary problem. Therefore, our discussions must be robust and candid, our ideas bold and innovative, and our recommendations pragmatic and futuristic.

“Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary responses,” Nandlall said.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall addressing the opening of the first Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform (Photo: News Room/ July 10, 2024)

He was at the time addressing the opening of the first Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform which was held on Tuesday at the Marriot Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.

The objectives of the conference are to effect reforms in the criminal justice system of Guyana, reduce the proportion of pre-trial detainees and increase the use of alternative sentencing.

However, Nandall said he hopes it will expand and embrace other fundamental areas of law.

“As students of the law, we know too well that the law must remain organic; and must be nurtured, shaped and moulded to meet the exigencies of an ever evolving society and the dynamic human conduct it is intended to govern.

“With easy access to guns and ammunition, coupled with the availability of information and communications technology at the disposal of criminals, crime has become a very organised, complex and sophisticated phenomena across the Region,” he said.

President Dr Irfaan Ali interact with participants at the opening of the conference (Photo: DPI/ July 10, 2024)

Discussions, Nandall said, will not only focus on “jurisprudential” academic nature but will lead to a cross examination of ideas that must complement to tackle crime in the region.

“Judges and Magistrates must inject competence, impartiality and efficiency in the discharge of their functions. Cases must be concluded within reasonable time. Adjournments must only be granted for good and sufficient reasons. Once a decision is made, the reasons therefore must be made available swiftly so that the appellate process can proceed with dispatch,” Nandall noted.

Members of the judiciary from across the region are participating in the conference which is being held in collaboration with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Academy of Law.

A section of the gathering (Photo: DPI/ July 10, 2024)

Noting that the criminal justice system does not operate in a vaccum, President Dr Irfaan Ali, who delivered the feature address, said Guyana is “way behind” the curve when it comes to digitalisation.

And in an era of Artificial Intelligence, he said it is important that the judiciary is given the necessary attention.

“Two years from now our Judges will be in an environment in which they will quick need to decide what is real and what is unreal based on arguments presented…And that requires a whole different mechanism, a different support system, a different deployment of technology to support their work,” President Ali said.

Equally important, President Ali added, is judicial predictability.

“The soundness of decision making in the judiciary, the structure of the judiciary, the quality of decision and importantly the consistency of decisions are important elements of judicial predictability.”

President Ali said this is why the Needham’s Point of Declaration is important

“If we don’t build strong institutions, then we will not be built for the future…We have to learn to put our brainpower together…to design and develop solutions that meet our needs and our problems”

The conference is being held under the theme “Criminal Justice Reform- Advancing the Needham’s Point Declaration.

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