President David Granger said that the integrity of the judiciary requires, in part, that judicial vacancies are filled expeditiously and meritoriously. The appointment of an adequate complement of judges is necessary to ensure to that justice is delivered in a timely manner. The appointment of judges is provided for by Article 128 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana, which states that the “judges, other than the Chancellor and Chief Justice, shall be appointed by the President, who shall act in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.”
Speaking at the swearing in of Attorney-at-law, Ms. Fidela Corbin-Lincoln as Puisne Judge, the Head of State said “I have received such advice and I have acted dutifully in accordance with the Constitution in administering the oath of office today… This ceremony today, aimed at filling a vacancy in our judicial system, is a simple yet serious re-affirmation of the supremacy of the Constitution. It is a means of ensuring the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.”
The President said that in addition to exemplifying the qualities of independence, impartiality and integrity, judicial officers must ensure that independence of the institution, which they serve by resisting any attempt at executive and legislative encroachment; guarantee the impartiality of their decisions by guarding against bias, prejudice and favouritism; and to ensure the integrity of their reputations by acting, always, in a manner which upholds the dignity of their office.
President Granger reiterated that his administration remains committed to the independence of the judiciary and will do everything in its power to ensure that the work of the work of judicial branch is protected. “The independence of the Judiciary is necessary to protect citizens’ rights and to ensure that legal issues are settled fairly. The independence of the judiciary emphasises that the three branches of Government; the executive, legislative and judicial, respect each other’s Constitutional roles and functions. The independence of the judiciary is respected and protected by the Government of the Republic, which has no interest in interfering in the work of the judiciary or in undermining the rule of law,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Corbin-Lincoln, who previously served as Master/Chamber Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, said that she looks forward to bringing her experience to bear in her new appointment and contribute meaningfully to jurisprudence in Guyana. “I always wanted to return home and the opportunity came and I thought this was a good time to come home,” she said.
The President has been on a mission to ensure that all vacant judicial offices are filled to ensure the effective functioning of the judiciary. In January and February, Dr. Arif Bulkan and Senior Counsel Rafiq Khan were appointed Justices of the Court of Appeal.