PERSONS who possess a Bachelor of Laws degree but did not proceed to law school will be given a chance to become state prosecutors.
This is according to Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Mohabir Anil Nandlall, who explained that the move is in keeping with the vision to strengthen prosecutorial services.
“Except in capital offences tried before a judge and jury in the High Court, invariably, all criminal offences in the Magistrate’s Court are prosecuted by police ranks, who undergo certain limited training in the area of prosecution. Such has been the position since independence. While very few can doubt that having regard to their limited training, and I dare say, their lack of legal education and in some cases equipped only with secondary education, they have acquitted themselves reasonably well against the most formidable of defence counsel,” Nandlall said.
He noted that because of the appreciable inequality, there have been multiple miscarriages of justice, simply because of the defence counsel’s superior knowledge and training in the law.
As a result, the legal affairs minister said that the victims of crime, the state and the public interest have suffered decades of grievous injustice.
“It is the state’s duty, though belated, to address this deficiency if true justice is to be achieved in our criminal justice system. What I plan to implement, obviously, is far from what is required. But I think it will go a far way in alleviating the current travesty,” Nandlall said.
He explained that there are dozens of persons in Guyana, especially young people, who possess a Bachelor of Laws degree but for whatever reason have not proceeded to one of the law schools in the Region and may be currently unemployed.
“I have begun a process of creating a database of these persons and they will be soon contacted to join a new initiative, which will see a collaboration between the Guyana Police Force and the director of public prosecutions, whereby after completing a one-year accredited prosecutorial training course, they will be hired as prosecutors and will join police prosecutors in the magistrates’ court, right across the length and breadth of our country,” the AG said.
The legal affairs minister said this addition will augment the quality of prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Court qualitatively, while at the same time provide a great job and career opportunity for many law graduates who are currently unemployed.
This must have a positive impact and must result in great improvements in the standard of prosecutorial service, so that victims of crime can feel confident when they enter the court- room, said Minister Nandlall.
“The sad reality currently is that many times victims of crime feel that the ordeal which they have to endure in the court because of the lack of proper legal representation, is sometimes worse than the crime itself, which they had to endure,” the minister said.
He continued: “I will be the first to concede that this is not the ultimate solution, but I will be bold to say that it is a step in the right direction. In terms of training of these new recruits, discussions have already begun for the implementation of a one-year accredited prosecutorial training programme at the University of Guyana with the Head of the Department of Law and the Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Law.”
Over the next few weeks, the AG said these discussions will intensify and hopefully there are a host of other initiatives, which will be implemented under this programme.