Commonwealth Secretary-General strongly supports Guyana’s justice reform initiative

From 10 to 11 July 2024, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, will be in Guyana to attend the Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform- Advancing the Needham’s Point Declaration. The event is being hosted by the Government of Guyana, through the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, in partnership with the CCJ Academy of Law and funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Stakeholders including, legislators, government officials, judges from the Caribbean Court of Justice, national and regional judicial officers, academics, law students, civil society representatives and experts from international organisations, will participate in the conference.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC

The initiative aims to accelerate justice reform in Guyana to meet the evolving needs of the country’s legal and regulatory environment. The Commonwealth Secretary-General, who was appointed a Queens Council in 1991 and has served as the Attorney General of England and Wales, was pleased to support the country’s reform agenda.

She reflected: 

“Justice is at the very heart of ensuring that we have a society that is not only enabling but equitable. We are charged to deliver justice, particularly for the poor, the marginalised, the silenced and the vulnerable. We can use the law as a weapon against injustice and wield it with skill whilst empowering the next generation.”

“By gathering regional stakeholders and approaching the planning process in a consultative and collaborative manner, shows a commitment to accessible and equitable justice. I salute the Government of Guyana for taking this bold step with this conference and look forward to sharing in the discussions. Additionally, my team and I will be assessing how we can support these efforts going forward.”

The Commonwealth Secretariat continues to support its member countries by providing technical assistance and developing model laws, templates and toolkits that can be customised to suit their specific needs. By doing so, the organisation harnesses the expertise and experience of some of its 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens to strengthen access to justice and promote sustainable development.

This week, the Secretariat held an event to honour legal luminaries who contributed to the Commonwealth Model Law on Virtual Assets which had been launched at the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in Tanzania. In addition, the organisation also produced a Commonwealth Carbon Tax Model Law, which aims to providethe elements of a legal framework to help countries to reduce their emissions and limit the pace of climate change.  

Other available resources for legislators and government officials include:

While in the Caribbean, the Commonwealth Secretary-General will also examine whether there are any additional ways that the Secretariat can support recovery efforts after Hurricane Beryl’s passage.

She also noted that the devastating impact of the hurricane has strengthened her advocacy for climate justice, reform of the global financial architecture and greater equity for small and vulnerable states. To assist the region, the Commonwealth Secretariat has activated its Rapid Response Framework to bolster recovery efforts underway in the affected countries and to build greater resilience for the future.

At the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Samoa, the issue of greater resilience was mooted by Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa, the incoming Chair-in-Office.  The event’s theme One Resilient Common Future by transforming our Common Wealth reflects Samoa’s belief in a collective responsibility for the earth and the desire to move all member states towards a more sustainable outlook.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal countries. It is home to 2.5 billion people, and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. Thirty-three of our members are small states, including 25 island nations. Our member governments have agreed to shared goals like development, democracy and peace. Our values and principles are expressed in the Commonwealth Charter.  

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