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Guyana’s first legal conference unites Caribbean’s judicial officers to innovate lawmaking

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AG Nandlall speaking at the event

At the opening of Guyana’s first conference on criminal justice reform this morning, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall emphasized the transformative potential of the engagement in bringing together the Caribbean’s foremost legal experts. With some of the best legal minds in the region present, the conference aims to foster a new approach to drafting laws, addressing contemporary forms of social disorder, according to Nandlall.

“The importance of forums such as these cannot be over-emphasised. They bring together the maker of the law, the interpreter of the law, the enforcer of the law, the practitioner of the law and of course the subject of the law, in a singular engagement to critically analyse and scientifically examine the law and its application,” Nandlall told the conference.

The conference, according to the Attorney General, aligns with the government’s vision of modernizing the legal framework to better address the complexities of today’s society. He revealed that the idea for the conference was inspired by the Needham’s Point Declaration, formulated during the 7th Biennial Law Conference of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Academy for Law in Barbados.

The conference programme, described by Nandlall as “impressive”, covers a wide range of criminal law areas, including modern and innovative legal concepts, institutional problems like delays and abuse of process, and career guidance for aspiring criminal law practitioners.

Recognizing the declaration’s relevance, Nandlall said he initiated a collaboration with the CCJ Academy for Law to organize the event. “Upon an examination of the Needham’s Point Declaration, I immediately recognized great similarities with the core objectives of the Support for Criminal Justice System (SCJS) Project which I felt should be the subject of a legal conference,” he said.

Nandlall pointed out that this conference is more than a mere gathering, but a platform for significant legal evolution. “Our society is continually evolving, and so must our laws. The stagnation of legal frameworks in the face of new social challenges leads to chaos and disorder,” he asserted. By engaging top legal professionals in robust discussions, Nandlall said the conference will catalyze the development of laws that are adaptive and resilient.

He stressed the importance of this collaborative effort, noting that the complexities of modern crime, facilitated by technological advancements and cross-border operations, require innovative legal solutions. “The sophistication of contemporary criminal activities demands a rethinking of our legal strategies,” Nandlall said. “This conference is designed to generate ideas and solutions that are both practical and progressive,” he added.

Nandlall also underscored the necessity for continuous education and adaptation within the legal fraternity. He called on judges and magistrates to ensure competence, impartiality, and efficiency in their roles, and urged fellow governments to adequately resource the judiciary to expedite justice.

He was keen to note the need for the drafting of new legislation that reflect the current realities and challenges, highlighting the role of the judiciary in interpreting these laws within their specific contexts. “Laws are not created in a vacuum; they arise from and must address the social, economic, and political contexts of our time,” he asserted.

Through this conference, Nandlall said his government envisions a future where collaborative efforts among the region’s top legal minds lead to the creation of dynamic, effective, and forward-thinking laws. This, he believes, is essential for maintaining social order and addressing the sophisticated nature of contemporary crime.

“This is just the beginning. The ideas and strategies we develop here will set a new standard for legal practices not only in Guyana but throughout the Caribbean. We are here to ensure our legal systems evolve in tandem with societal changes, creating a robust framework to address the complexities of modern social disorders,” he stated.

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