The absence of a sitting Judge in the Court of Appeal has prompted Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo to call on President David Granger to appoint same, based on recommendations made by the Judicial Service Commission in 2016.
This was according to a statement from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, which stated that Jagdeo raised this issue at a meeting with the President on Wednesday at State House. The Opposition Leader was accompanied by former Attorney Geneal (AG) Anil Nandlall.
In 2016 the Judicial Service Commission unanimously recommended that the Honourable Justice Rishi Persaud and the Honourable Justice Dawn Gregory be appointed to the Court of Appeal and Sandil Kissoon and Damone Younge, Attorneys-at-Law, be appointed as Puisne Judges. And at the meeting on Wednesday, Jagdeo reminded the President that there was no alternative but to act on recommendations made by the Commission.
It was noted that the Opposition Leader sought to emphasise the urgency attached to these appointments since there is currently no sitting Judge in the Court of Appeal.
The statement added too that Jagdeo made reference to a “public perception” that the delay in acting upon the recommendations is deliberate and intended to await a differently constituted Judicial Service Commission, which may not have confidence in the recommendations of their predecessors.
Further, he pointed out that the delay in elevating the two Judges to the Appeal Court places them at a comparative disadvantage in respect of seniority, the statement said.
A commitment was then made by the President who said that he will address these concerns at a meeting which will be held on March 8, 2017.
The Opposition Leader also utilized the opportunity to discuss the appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The statement highlighted that while he continues to hold to his publicly articulated position on this matter, Jagdeo is at the same time requesting clarifications on how many persons ought to come from each of the categories contemplated by Article 161 (2) of the Constitution as interpreted by the Attorney General. Additionally, he is unclear on what some of the qualities or attributes are, in deciding who is capable of being considered “fit and proper”.
He said that this request for clarifications is to assist him in selecting six names that would most likely find the acceptance of the President, because it is a national imperative that this issue be resolved with every convenient speed.
According to the statement, several other issues of national importance was also raised at the meeting, including; the lack of investments, the heavy taxation burden placed upon the population and the business community, and the devastating consequences which will flow from the closure of the Sugar Industry.
“The Leader of the Opposition emphasised that the Government is sending a plethora of wrong signals, for example, wild and unsubstantiated allegations of corruption in the country, the reckless linkages alleged between reputable persons and commercial entities in the business community and criminal enterprises and irresponsible assertions of a dependency of the economy upon illicit activities” the statement read.
It further went on to state that Jagdeo pointed out that the cumulative effect of these signals will not attract much needed investments and will continue to put pressure on the exchange rate which will result in the loss of real income and welfare.
“The Leader of the Opposition cautioned that unless these and other critical issues in relation to the economy, are prudently addressed, the economy will continue its downward slide” the statement added.