Following an updated gazetted Order, the Judiciary of Guyana will be conducting virtual court hearings for which media representatives will be allowed to join. These are some of the precautionary measures put in place to ensure that the wheels of justice keep turning despite the threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The order was gazetted on June 22, 2020.
To curtail the spread of the deadly disease, the judiciary has suspended all in-person hearings and face-to-face operations. The gazetted Order highlights ways in which the court should operate while allowing the public and interested parties to be a part of the hearings.
Information on the virtual hearings can be made public by an official of the court who would provide audio of the hearing and, if available, a video. Only hearings of matters that media operatives have access to, the audio or video will be allowed to make public.
The court is also allowing media representatives to join in the virtual hearings. The judiciary has already started creating virtual lobbies or waiting rooms with the use of Zoom to facilitate this method of communication. Other parties being allowed access to the hearings are the defendant, attorney, and the virtual complainant.
The hearings can also be live-streamed if the court chooses not to use either of the two first methods. However, the live stream can only be broadcast to the public after the authorization of a judicial officer is given.
On March 23, 2020, days after Guyana recorded its first death and case of the deadly virus, the Judiciary of Guyana gazetted orders which halted all court hearings.
The emergency COVID-19 directions were later implemented and updated by notice on April 3, 2020, and then on April 5, 2020. The said precautionary measures outlined are slated to take immediate effect and last for a period of one month, unless it is revoked or extended by notice after an assessment of the current health situation of the public.