Sir Dennis Byron (GP)
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GEORGETOWN – President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Sir Dennis Byron has expressed concern about the inability of present and previous administrations to appoint a Chancellor and Chief Justice.
Byron, in a recent address to the Guyana Bar Association said that according to the country’s constitution, the Chancellor and Chief Justice should be appointed by the president after obtaining the agreement from the opposition leader.
However, the CCJ President pointed out that for 12 years, successive presidents and leaders of the opposition have been unable to agree on the appointments.
Twelve years ago, the Office of Chancellor of the Judiciary of Guyana became vacant when Justice Desiree Barnard, joined the Bench of the CCJ, he reminded.
“I draw attention to Article 127(2) of the Constitution which provides, in relevant part, “If the office of Chancellor is vacant … then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of such office…the functions shall be performed by such other of the judges as shall be appointed by the President after meaningful consultation with the leader of the opposition,” he said.
The CCJ President said that the use of the word “shall” imposes a mandatory obligation upon both the President and the Leader of the Opposition to come to an agreement on the persons to be appointed as Chancellor and Chief Justice.
“But it should also indicate that the Constitution intended that the identified officials would exercise high standards of good faith and reasonableness because failure to agree is not an acceptable option in the interpretation of that constitutional provision.”
He noted that the situation has moved well beyond what ought to be acceptable in a modern democracy where respect for the rule of law is maintained.
However, last month President David Granger said he was waiting on a response from the nominee identified for the substantive post of Chancellor of the Judiciary.
The Head of state only said that the person was of Guyanese descent but hails from the Anglophone Caribbean.
The president then said that once the nominee responds, he will consult Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo in accordance with the Constitution.
Currently, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards serves as acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, while Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire is the acting Chief Justice. (CMC)