Luncheon's attack not against all magistrates
Stabroek News
February 9, 2002

There are hardworking and dedicated magistrates and recent remarks by Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon were not intended to tar all magistrates as corrupt, according to President Bharrat Jagdeo. "The last thing I want to do is to demoralise them."

However, he said that his government hoped that those not acting with propriety and in accordance with the high standards of the profession would be dealt with through the appropriate mechanism.

President Jagdeo told reporters yesterday at a press conference at the Office of the President convened to report on his attendance at the just concluded CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Belize, that he had spoken to Dr Luncheon and he had assured him that it was not his intention to paint all magistrates as corrupt.

President Jagdeo explained that Dr Luncheon told him that he had been asked about the magistrates and that his reply "was never intended to convey the impression that it meant all magistrates and if that was the perception created it was the wrong impression."

However, he asserted that while there were honest hardworking magistrates "we have had reports on a few people that can't be ignored." He said that he knew that Chancellor of the Judiciary Desiree Bernard and Chief Justice Carl Singh were aware of these reports and Luncheon had been trying to convey that. "Maybe the appropriate words were not used," he added.

Those magistrates were still in the system, as only the judiciary could discipline them, according to President Jagdeo.

"The government does not have the authority to discipline anyone in this sector - not judges nor magistrates. The disciplinary authority lies within the judiciary."

Both Chief Justice Singh and acting Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen have called the statement by Luncheon unfortunate. There have been protests outside the High Court and the Office of the President calling on Luncheon to withdraw his remarks or produce the evidence of corruption against the magistrates.