Two senior long-serving female Jurists were this morning sworn in to top two positions in the local Judiciary.
Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, who has been acting as Chief Justice will assume the responsibility of Acting Chancellor while Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire will replace her as the new Acting Chief Justice.
The women took their Oath of Office before President David Granger at a simple ceremony at State House in the presence of other members of the Judiciary, Government Ministers and close family members.
President David Granger offered his congratulations to the women and reiterated that the appointments were temporary until substantive office holders could be appointed.
Guyana has not appointed a substantive Chancellor and Chief Justice for more than two decades.
But President David Granger pointed to his intent to do so even as he wished the newly appointed Chancellor and Chief Justice every success and urged them to continue to uphold the high standards of their offices.
The appointments were made by the President following consultation with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, in keeping with the Guyana Constitution.
The Head of State also addressed the issue relating to a shortage of Judges in the Court of Appeal and said he intends to meet with the new Chancellor and the Chief Justice to ask that the Judicial Service Commission meet to make recommendations to fill the vacancies as quickly as possible.
Of the full complement of five, the Court of Appeal is only functioning with two Judges.
“I am very confident that the Chancellor is aware of the shortages and as quickly as the JSC can meet and the names submitted to me I intend to move ahead. I have no interest in perpetuating a situation where there are insufficient Judges and a backlog is being built up,” Mr Granger added.
The President said the swearing in of these two esteemed women is a step in the right direction and he expects that the issue will be resolved within weeks.
Chancellor Cummings-Edwards also spoke on the issue as being among her most urgent tasks.
The Chancellor said she will begin working on it as soon as tomorrow and indicated that a meeting of the members of the JSC will be convened shortly to address the situation.
Justice George-Wiltshire said she was happy to serve her country in this capacity and pledged to support the Chancellor in addressing the challenges in the Judiciary.
She hopes to build on the momentum that Justice Communing’s Edwards has set in the High Court and expects the support of her colleagues.
Among her most urgent tasks will be to tackle the backlog of cases and implement new civil procedures.
Justice George-Wiltshire has full responsibility for the Family Court. (by Kurt Campbell)