November 20 ,2021
“I insist on hearing from all sides of an equation so that I am fully informed of any and all outstanding issues. I look forward to further discussions and visits with all concerned and to lending my expertise in an independent and unbiased fashion.” – Justice Carlos Moore
…after meeting with Govt., Opposition, Judicial Officers, other stakeholders
Kaieteur News – A top US Judge and sitting President of the United States National Bar Association (US-NBA), Justice Carlos Moore, has deplored as worrying and concerning—once proven true—the numerous allegations of political interference in the local judiciary, through acting appointments, and other such actions.
Justice Moore gave the preliminary assessment just prior to his departure from Guyana this past week, following an official two-day visit at the invitation of Head of State, President Irfaan Ali.
Justice Moore gave his views during a meeting with Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lenox Shuman, along with a member of the private sector, where among the concerns raised were the implications of the acting positions being held by senior judicial posts such as the Chancellor of the Judiciary, in addition to an Acting Chief Justice.
Deputy Speaker Shuman, during the impromptu meeting venued at the Marriott Hotel with Justice Moore and his Chief Foreign Policy Advisor, Ms. Johanna Leblanc, raised, among other concerns, the status of numerous appointments that inherently affect the functioning of the judiciary, and cited as another example the status of Judicial Service, and other Commissions.
The tit-for-tat over the lack of consultations between Leader of the Political Opposition, Joseph Harmon, and President Ali leading to the stalemate over key appointments and their concomitant implications were also raised with the visiting US Judge.
Widespread perceived corruption in Guyana including, collusion involving public officials and general political interference in the state apparatus, were among some of the key concerns raised by Shuman.
A fractured inefficient political opposition in the form of the 31-seat A Partnership for National Unity / Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) was also highlighted, among matters, including a lack of inclusivity across the spectrum, particularly on important matters affecting the citizenry, leading many to believe that there was little to no recourse domestically; hence, the appeal for the Bar Association’s intervention.
During his visit to Guyana, Justice Moore and Chief Policy Advisor—Ms. Leblanc—were accompanied by the Association’s Executive Director, Maurice Foster Esq. and member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Rosalyn Henderson-Myers.
The legal luminaries during their sojourn also met with Guyana’s legal advisor to the Government, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, and members of his delegation.
The Attorney General subsequently related that the US National Bar Association’s visit to Guyana was aimed at establishing partnerships with the local Bar Association, the Attorney General Chambers and the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, “in order to invest in the development of Guyana.”
The visiting team, according to a statement from the Legal Affairs Ministry, has since indicated, “…they are willing to collaborate in line with the needs of the Guyana Government and are ready to assist with equipping local lawyers in the area of oil and gas expertise.”
According to Attorney General Nandlall, it was suggested to the US delegation that the American Bar Association, can facilitate an expert in law reform, coming to Guyana to assist the recently established Law Reform Commission.
Other areas of partnership identified by the Ministry “include exchange of interns and legal experts and seminars with local attorneys.”
The visiting and local delegations also used the opportunity to discuss areas of electoral reform and the importance of the rule of law.
The US delegation also met with Head of State, President Ali who treated the visitors to a luncheon, following discussions related to areas of mutual cooperation.
Also present for the largely informal discussions were Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips, Minister Nandlall, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd and Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud.
They were also joined by representatives of the local legal fraternity, namely Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards; Acting Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire, Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, and President of the Guyana Bar Association, Pauline Chase at the luncheon.
On Tuesday, the visiting delegation also met with the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, and Prime Minister Phillips at his office.
The delegation, according to Office of the President, “was informed of the Government’s inclusive approach to development and its commitment to the rule of law.
The delegation also met with Opposition members, Roysdale Forde and Amanza Walton-Desir, Nigel Hughes, among others.
Prior to their departure from Guyana however, Justice Moore facilitated an impromptu meeting at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, with Deputy Speaker Shuman, who in making a case for the need for support by the US based legal association, concluded there is little to no recourse in Guyana over perceived malpractices, political interference, lack of representation and inclusivity in the national decision-making process, among other lamentations.
Also present at that meeting was a member of the local private sector, President and CEO of SBF Petroleum, Mr. Dorwain Bess, who was invited to the meeting to brief the visiting US Bar Association President, to relay first-hand his experience and allegations over perceived abuse of the judicial process and provide the US Judge with a dossier in support of his claims.
This is in addition to reiterating for the US Judge, many of his publicly aired views over the circumstances concerning the cancellation of his company’s Fuel Import and Wholesale Licence by the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA).
To this end, Justice Moore committed to using the resources at the disposal of the US National Bar Association, to lend assistance to domestic causes of disenfranchisement and other shortcomings—once proven accurate—and to intervene where possible.
According to Justice Moore, as long as the allegations being made can be supported with empirical evidence and data, then the Association certainly views the charges being made as worrying and concerning.
Stressing his commitment to the rule of law and eradicating disenfranchisement, across the spectrum, not just in Guyana, Justice Moore has since pledged to review the concerns raised by all during his meetings in Guyana.
Independent & Unbiased
To this end, he assured that the Association would be making its ‘considered’ position on the state of affairs in Guyana public, in due course.
Following his departure, Justice Moore in sharing tidbits of his visit to Guyana, expressed in relation to his meeting with Bess, “I was happy to meet with an oil and gas tycoon while in Guyana. He was the only Afro-Guyanese person with an oil and gas licence until recently. Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to learning more from all concerned.”
Regarding his meeting with the political opposition, Justice Moore shared that “I insist on hearing from all sides of an equation so that I am fully informed of any and all outstanding issues. I look forward to further discussions and visits with all concerned and to lending my expertise in an independent and unbiased fashion.”
On the meeting, with the President, Justice Moore said he looks “forward to future dialogue and engagement with the people of Guyana” and that “it is our sincere hope that one Guyana can exist as espoused, “since people are always stronger together.”
During the official, two-day visit, the US delegation on Monday met with the Prime Minister at his office before holding talks with Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary and Acting Chief Justice.
The following day, formal talks were held between the visiting delegation and Head of the Department of Law at the University of Guyana, Kim Kyte-Thomas, Foreign Affairs Minister Todd and AG Nandlall.
The team also met with members of the political opposition that afternoon before meeting with Deputy Shuman and businessman Bess, prior to their departure early Thursday morning.