Georgetown, Guyana – (December 20, 2017) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, commissioned a $99M, fully furnished modern living quarters facility for judges and magistrates at Suddie, Essequibo Coast, where he said that the project is part of Government’s investment towards the improved delivery of judicial services and administration of justice in the region.
Addressing members of the judiciary, regional officials and other special invitees present at the opening ceremony, Minister Harmon said that the delivery of justice, is an issue, which the Government takes seriously and the provision of these facilities will ensure that the distance between the court and the living accommodation is reduced so as to allow more time to be spent on dealing with the administration of justice. Previously, the accommodation for judges and magistrates were available at Anna Regina while the Court is located at Suddie.
“I believe that is a very important step… The location of these premises in immediate proximity of the court is commendable as it removes the need of these officials to commute from Anna Regina to this location, thereby saving precious time and money and enable them to discharge their functions with ease. The transition of accommodation of our judicial officers to close proximity to the place of work and circumstances that are more comfortable should not be underestimated. The discharge of their functions as adjudicators of the law require clear thinking and legal writing that must be facilitated by provision of the best possible living and working environment…,” Minister Harmon said.
The Minister of State said that accommodations and suitable working conditions are even more important as there are a vast number of women serving in the judicial system and as such, their welfare must be taken into account. “Even though our female judicial officers are no less competent and efficient than their male counterparts, they are still our gentler side and their welfare, therefore, require greater care and consideration. I have no doubt that these facilities will bring a greater willingness by the officials who will be accommodated here, to provide quality service in Essequibo and also contribute to higher level of efficiency to discharge their functions,” he said.
Minister Harmon noted that the realisation of this project is a manifestation of government’s commitment to addressing the improvement and enhancement of the working conditions of the three branches of government and to also facilitate the efficient delivery of public service in all regions of Guyana. This, Minister Harmon said, includes the realignment of services in accordance with the ten administrative regions of Guyana that will be realised by the establishment of regional capitals.
“These services include fast and reliable internet access for proper communication and research that are so essential for such matters as case preparations and judgement and all other support which the judiciary requires. It is still not good enough that citizens of Bartica have to travel to the Essequibo Coast to receive some judicial services. These services should be provided to our citizens with the least possible inconvenience,” the Minister said.
Further to this, Minister Harmon said that the time is fast approaching when the regional administrations will have to take responsibility of the provision of such facilities so as to ensure that valuable time is not lost.
“I believe that in the manner in which development will take place, that the regions and the capital towns will have to take responsibility for providing these services and therefore it really ought not to be on the Chancellor and the Chief Justice to come here to find accommodation for judges. It is the administration that has to do that. A judge must judge and therefore to attach all of these administrative functions on to the judges is basically taking away important judicial time,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Chancellor of the Judiciary (acting), Madame Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, OR, CCH, in here remarks said that the project, which began under the auspices of Justice Carl Singh, former Chancellor of the Judiciary, will assist greatly in the provision of judicial services on the Essequibo Coast. After years of tedious searching for housing and accommodation for Judges and Magistrates, she noted that it is a historic day to see the project come to fruition.
“As I recall it, in the 70s to the 80s just across where the old Suddie High Court was, were quarters for judges and magistrates were given places all around. That building was old dilapidated and as a result, quarters had to be found again for staff here. Then after that, accommodations were found for judges in Onderneeming and that compound housed the judge, the prosecutor, the clerk and the court marshal. We would commute from there to Court and then eventually we moved from Onderneeming and went to Anna Regina but the meantime the magistrates were itinerant because they were in Zorg and then they were at Johanna Cecelia and they were other places. Some magistrates stayed with relatives some were lucky to have government buildings at their disposal,” she explained.
With the project coming to fruition, Justice Cummings-Edwards said that there is now accommodation in a central location for magistrates, judges, commissioners of titles and even their guests while dispensing justice in Essequibo.
“The commute will not be anymore, because judges will just have to walk across to the courtroom which is just next door. And in that regard, we know that more will be given to you here is Essequibo in terms of the dispensation of justice. We know that judges and judicial officers work very hard and they have to leave their homes and come here and that is not a complaint. They do not complain but they come willingly and it is only fitting that we make this location where they will be, as comfortable as possible. Having left their family, their pets and their comforts, they should come as close as possible to what they would have left at home even as they serve you,” she said.
The Project commenced on November 21, 2016 and was scheduled to be completed in eleven months. However it was completed in the period nine months within the allocated Budget. The facility boasts four apartment units, which contain two rooms each. The rooms are outfitted with all amenities including flat screen televisions, microwaves, furniture and hot and cold shower.