JPs want role in Alternative Dispute Resolution programme
Stabroek News
August 10, 2003

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The Guyana Justices of the Peace Association is calling on the government to include members of the association in the current Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) programme.

This disclosure was made at a conference the association held yesterday at City Hall. In a draft proposal to be presented to the Office of the President, the Attorney General Chambers and the Ministry of Home Affairs the association requested that they be included in the programme which is open to attorneys-at-law, and that they be appointed as lay magistrates.

Anthony Boyce, Public Relations Officer of the association during his remarks noted that JPs (qualified) should be allowed to mediate as part of an Alternative Dispute Resolution system and conduct committal hearings.

He explained that the JP (qualified) discharges the duties of Commissioner of Oaths (COAs) including the right to issue warrants, remand defendants (return defendants to custody until their case can be heard) adjourn court hearings and grant bail.

Boyce said that the association was also requesting in their proposal that JPs be appointed lay magistrates, a position he described as similar to that of the JP (qualified).

He noted that formalised, systematic and compulsory training must be made available for all JPs and complemented with an apprenticeship in the magistracy for those aspiring to be lay magistrates.

He pointed out that their counterparts in the Caribbean, namely Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are handling minor criminal matters. According to him JPs in England and North America have jurisdiction over criminal matters and both criminal and civil matters, respectively.

Boyce said further the association needs funding, recognition and support among other things and noted that the proposal could be subject to amendment. In addition he said that should the proposal be accepted the association intends to form a panel to address various concerns.

According to him panel members will be drawn from every region and will collaboratively work as a policing group within the association.

Secretary of the association, Parag Sukai during his remarks said that the proposal was a way forward for Justices of the Peace in Guyana. He noted that over the years, the appointments of justices of the peace had lacked the rigour that should have been associated with such positions.

According to Sukhai the association is therefore strongly advocating the reform of the procedure for the appointment of Justices of the Peace and is calling on the Attorney General and the Office of the President to make it compulsory for newly appointed JPs to attend training sessions.

He went on to say that the association was advocating that its current membership also be exposed to the requisite training to assist in the performance of their duties and added that it believed that there was need for a review of the legislation appointing citizens to the posts of JPs and COAs.

Attorney-at-law Llewellyn John during his brief remarks told the gathering JPs were not necessarily COAs. He said the two offices were separate and independent and noted that COAs did not deal with matters pertaining to the court process.

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