Noting that the presence of an attorney in court can determine whether someone gets incarcerated or goes scot-free, the Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Legal Affairs, is looking at extending legal aid services in the country, particularly in the hinterland. This is according to the Legal Affairs Minister, and Attorney-General (AG) Basil Williams.

During an interview on the “Insight” programme aired on the Voice of Guyana (VOG), Williams noted that a lot of persons go to court without a lawyer, and end up being incarcerated or placed on remand. He believes that if these persons were equipped with lawyers, the outcome of their cases might have differed tremendously.

“So being properly represented, we’re sure that the lawyers will be able to make representation to the court. Also, give directions to the prosecutors that the cases before them would be a proper case to be diverted, and not send people to the prison,” he said.

The AG noted too that the provision of legal aid is linked to restorative justice approaches, and is one of the components of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) programme, “Support for the Criminal Justice System programme”.

Further, it will help the state in addressing the prison overcrowding problem, he said. He added that since the Judiciary has extended its reach in the hinterland region by creating Magisterial Districts in the Capital towns, the expansion of the legal aid service will allow for greater delivery of justice.
“So, we are looking at this whole question of legal aid – not only for the city, but also for the hinterland now that you have these Magisterial Districts have been opened. We expect a great effectiveness in that regard,” he said.

According the Guyana Legal Aid Clinic website, free or subsidised legal advice and representation are provided to persons who cannot afford to pay for an attorney. The clinic also refers people who need non-legal help, to agencies that can assist them.

The Clinic has four offices: Charlotte Street, Georgetown; the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Compound at Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast; the RDC Compound in Fort Wellington, West Coast Berbice; and the RDC Compound in Vryman’s Erven, New Amsterdam.



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