Importing Chancellor can destabilise Judiciary – former AFC Executive

first_imgAttempts by President David Granger to advance an overseas candidate to the position of Chancellor of the Judiciary, ahead of the acting Guyanese appointee, continue to be condemned with former Alliance For Change (AFC) Executive Sasenarine Singh, who is calling the move an attempt to wreak havoc on the Judiciary.Acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-EdwardsSingh, in an interview with Guyana Times on Saturday, expressed disappointment with the move to advance the Belize Chief Justice, considering the stellar service acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards and acting Chief Justice Roxane George have provided throughout their judicial careers and in their respective positions.“When President Granger chose Roxane George and Yonette [Cummings-]Edwards, initially to act, it was a sound decision. It made sense to (have them) act in the positions to test their capabilities. Both of them have built up a reputation of being fair Judges. Their judgements over their (career) come across as embracing the law and ignoring emotional and political sentiment, which is exactly where we ought to take the Judiciary. With the Legislature being so subservient to the Executive, the only independent voice is the Judiciary.”Acting Chief Justice Roxane GeorgeHe added that now that the nation has seen their capabilities, it is only right to appoint both women to the substantial posts.“They’ve been fair. They’ve been transparent. They’ve been accountable. Their judgements make sense. Thus, the importation of Justice (Kenneth) Benjamin is a sign of bad faith (since) Justice Cummings-Edwards and Justice George have proven themselves credible. It’s childish and nothing but a PR gimmick to seek to impose an external Judge as Chancellor when already the holder of the office is doing such an excellent job.”After having been given the names of Justice Benjamin (nominee for Chancellor) and Justice Cummings-Edwards (nominee for Chief Justice), Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, in a letter issued last Wednesday, rejected the nominees.He cited Article 127 (1) of the Constitution of the Guyana and contended that he is “unable to offer his agreement” to the top two judicial posts. Jagdeo subsequently indicated to reporters on Thursday last that he is not interested in rating the various nominees; or in dragging their names through the mud, when asked for his reasons.On Saturday, Singh suggested that the best way forward for the President may be to simply put forward the names of Justice Roxane George and Yonette Cummings-Edwards to the Opposition Leader, so that they can be confirmed in their respective roles. He urged the Government against creating a precedent of working outside the Constitution.“We should never dare play petty politics on the Judiciary. Our image is dented. We need to preserve the professionalism of the Judiciary. I’m disappointed in Mr Granger failing to respect the eminence of the Judiciary. Justice Benjamin cannot be compared to these ladies… he doesn’t have the local awareness of (Guyana’s) jurisprudence like them.”The former AFC Executive also expressed fears that once up and coming judicial officers see that appointments to the top spot are not necessarily merit based; this can cause individuals to lose their motivation… and their moral compass.“It will get people to start thinking short-term. Which means when people get into a position of a judgeship, they will not see the potential for judicial progression. And if people know they will be stifled at base level and there’s no room for professional development, it can lead to corruption in the Judiciary.”Justice Cummings-Edwards had previously served in the post of acting Chief Justice before being promoted to her current post in an acting capacity. Once she is confirmed as substantive Chief Justice, it means that her current successor, acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, will be removed. It is not clear in what capacity Justice George will serve should Government move ahead with the appointments as was indicated by Minister of State Joseph Harmon.last_img

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