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Secretary of the Association, Mr. Parag Sukhai, told the small gathering at City Hall, Regent Street, that many members of the public do not recognize the role of all Justices of Peace (JPs), Commissioners of Oaths to Affidavits (COAs), and Justices of Peace/Commissioners of Oaths to Affidavits (JPs/COAs) and as such they often categorize them as illiterate, untrained and uneducated.
He said that the association is now prepared to address such beliefs with the help of the Attorney General's Office and the Office of the President.
Sukhai pointed out that the aim of the conference and the draft proposal is to implement a system under which JPs should be appointed.
* COA should have purely administrative duties. The category deals with witnessing signatures to document and certifying true copies of documents and other matters similarly inclined.
* JP (qualified) has the duties of COAs plus the right to issue warrants, remand defendants, (return defendants to custody until their case can be heard) adjourn court hearings and grant bail.
* Justices of Peace (Magistrate court) have the same duties as JP (qualified) plus the right to conduct committal hearings, and to mediate as part of an Alternative Dispute Resolution System.
* That the formalized, systematic and compulsory training be made available to all JPs.
* That the selection of JPs appointed to function for a limited period of time.
* That the authorities responsible for making such appointments keep a register of all appointed JPs.
* That the authorities monitor the outward migration of JPs from the region in which they were appointed in order to fill the vacancies consequent on such migration and also to determine whether the migrant JPs should retain their appointment.
Speaking at the conference also was Attorney-at-Law Mr. Llewellyn John, who lamented that over the years appointments of JPs seemed to have lacked the rigor and diligence, since many negative aspersions have been cast on the holders of the honorable office.
Mr. Samid Amad Bacchus launched the Guyana Justices of Peace Association on April 13, 1994 with the aims of respecting, honoring and preserving the constitution of Guyana.
It also aims to promote goodwill and share knowledge and experience among JPs and bring together members of the association for educational purposes.
The association is presently governed by the summery Jurisdiction (Magistrates) act, which implements the method of appointment and removal of JPs.
Present at the conference was President of the Association and Chairman of the Conference Mr. Omar Khan, Public Relations Officer of the Association Mr. Anthony Boyce, Vice President of the Association Mr. Ranwell Jordan, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Legal Affairs Mitra Devi Alli and Acting British High Commissioner Mr. Steven Crossman.