Continuous education essential for modern judiciary – President Ali

As first Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform opens

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has highlighted the critical need for continuous education within the judiciary to address modern issues effectively.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the First Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform, at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown, on Wednesday, President Ali emphasised the importance of equipping the legal fraternity with new techniques and skills.

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali

“It is important, especially in this era of AI (artificial intelligence), that judges and the judiciary itself are given the necessary attention, because two years from now, our judges will be in an environment in which they will quickly need to decipher what is real and what is unreal, based on arguments presented…What is AI-generated and what is not,” President Ali underscored.  

He pointed out that the developing world is already lagging in digitisation. According to the president, this necessitates a more robust campaign to keep up with global progress.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC

This historical challenge, he noted, stems from the developing world’s need to adjust to the evolving global landscape while still recovering from the effects of colonisation.

“When we were fighting to come out of colonial rule and slavery and indentureship, the rest of the world was moving towards industrial revolution and manufacturing…We are always forced to match the speed of change globally without understanding where we started, and this is the same for the judiciary,” the president pointed out.

President Ali stressed the need for continuous learning within the judiciary system and advocated for the CCJ’s Academy for Law to play a crucial role.

A section of the gathering at the First Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform

He suggested that the academy should focus on emerging societal issues and establish special certification programmes for lawyers and judges.

“Maybe through an accreditation process, [the academy can] design short executive programmes that give our lawyers and judges specialised training and certification – maybe international certification too – on key issues and challenges that we are facing now and will face in the future,” President Ali underscored.

The head of state assured Guyana’s full support in the continuous educational advancement of the CCJ in the region.

A section of the gathering at the First Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform

Meanwhile, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, noted that the law must be nurtured and moulded to meet the needs of an ever-evolving society.

The AG noted that crime is becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated.

“With easy access to guns and ammunition, coupled with the availability of information and communications technology at the disposal of criminals, crime has become a very organised, complex, and sophisticated phenomenon across the region,” he lamented.

He said the forum provides the enabling environment for crucial analysis of the fundamental legal issues facing the region and the exchange of ideas to tackle rising crime rates.

The two-day conference, a collaborative effort between the Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Academy for Law, is part of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded Support for the Criminal Justice System (SCJS) project in Guyana.

The landmark event aims to build on the progress made during the CCJ Academy for Law’s 7th Biennial Conference held in October 2023, where the Needham’s Point Declaration was adopted, outlining 39 recommendations for creating a modern and efficient criminal justice system.

The declaration focuses on reducing pre-trial detention times, improving access to legal aid, and ensuring swifter trials.

The conference will feature discussions on various topics within the criminal justice framework, including eliminating case backlogs, sentencing guidelines, restorative justice, and plea bargaining.

The session is being held under the theme: ‘Advancing the Needham’s Point Declaration.’

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