To ensure that proper legal services are provided to the Government; to provide statutory services to the public relating to the public trust and bankruptcy matters; and to register titles, mortgages, companies, societies and other bodies as well as other documents, as required by the law.
Hague conference sets foundation for delivery of region’s community laws -CCJ President
Georgetown, GINA, July 13, 2016
The Hague Conference being hosted by Guyana, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) sets the foundation for Caribbean member states to work towards establishing laws that can be applied in relation to family law matters.
The three-day regional conference being hosted at the Pegasus Hotel, will address the Hague Conventions on child adoption, abduction, maintenance and international family mediation.
For Guyana and the wider Caribbean region, information coming out of the Hague Conference will provide members states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) greater familiarity with these international standards of practice.
More importantly, the conference provides the basis for developing a framework within the region to address family law issues such as child adoption and abduction, as well as cross-border trade.
President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Sir Dennis Byron
President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Sir Dennis Byron, who is present for the conference, believes that the increased knowledge and understanding garnered from the conference will see more “community laws” being developed.
“We at the CCJ are very interested in the increased appreciation of family law in the region, both in terms of helping to support the work of the regional jurisdiction, and the development of the single market and economy, but also in terms of supporting general traditional development by making certain that the international standards which are evident in regional treaties are more applicable in the way regional courts operate,” Sir Byron told the Government Information Agency (GINA) in an interview just before the opening of the conference this evening.
The sensitisation of persons on the awareness that will be raised is important and assists the region “to make it become more real to the way how we do our business and so on,” Sir Byron said.
Noting that he was pleased to be in Guyana for this meeting, the CCJ President said, “I really expect that the convention itself will be inspiring to the judiciary and legal profession and general public here.”
Meanwhile, Byron expressed the hope that this conference will stimulate interest by participating countries to sign onto the Hague’s Conventions where they can benefit from an international network of judges. “Obviously being part of a judicial network has its benefits and it could very well be that as a result of the activities of this week, it will stimulate and encourage greater participation among regions,” Sir Byron noted.
Guyana is hosting the third Regional Hague Conference on Private International Law under the theme “International Family Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce: Promoting Human Rights and Cross-Border Trade in the Caribbean Through the Hague Conference Conventions”.
Adjustments to Draft Cybercrime Bill completed
July 11, 2016
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams
–legislation likely to be sent to Special Select Committee when tabled
THE Draft Cybercrime legislation will soon be presented to Cabinet, now that consultations and adjustments on the bill have been completed.Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams, will make a special appeal to Cabinet for the legislation to be sent to a Select Committee when it is presented in the National Assembly. Once cleared by Cabinet, the draft legislation would be laid in the House.
The draft bill initially presented to stakeholders in March has since undergone several changes. “As a result of that consultation, we had to make several adjustments to the draft bill,” Williams explained.
Once passed, the bill would safeguard Guyanese against cybercrime, including computer-related forgery, identity theft, child pornography, child luring, and offenses affecting critical infrastructure.
The Cybercrime Bill 2016 was crafted with the primary objective to combat cybercrimes by creating offenses and to provide for penalties, investigation and prosecution of the offences and related matters. The draft bill mandates that a person who, intentionally and without lawful excuse or justification, inputs, alters, deletes or suppresses computer data, resulting in (the production of) inauthentic data with the intent that it be considered or acted upon for legal purposes as if it were authentic, regardless of whether or not the data is directly readable and intelligible, commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $3M and to imprisonment for three years.
In addition, persons who disseminate information after being convicted will be fined $20,000, and will also be liable to a three-year prison term.
The bill also outlines the penalties for computer fraud, in the sense that anyone who commits an offence deemed to be computer fraud will be dealt heavier penalties, with a summary conviction carrying a $5M fine and a five-year prison term.
Cyberbullying, which is bullying through the use of technology, is also deemed an offence, according to the bill. It states that to cyberbully another person intentionally or recklessly is deemed to be committing an offence.
According to the bill, “a cyberbully” is someone who uses a computer system to repeatedly or continuously convey information which causes fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress, or other harm to another person. The actions of such persons become detrimental to another person’s health, their emotional well-being, self-esteem or their reputation.
Child pornography as an offence is also clearly defined by the bill: Anyone who intentionally produces child pornography for the purpose of its distribution through a computer system, or who offers or makes available child pornography through a computer system, is guilty of an offence. In addition, anyone who distributes, transmits, procures or obtains child pornography through a computer is also guilty of an offence.
If summarily convicted, such individuals are liable to be fined $5M and serve a five-year prison term.
In light of the pending legislation, the Guyana Police Force has, with a series of training, been preparing its ranks to effectively address this kind of crime. An Assistant Superintendent and a Sergeant attended a just concluded Interpol-sponsored cybercrime training session in the Dominican Republic.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs has also been exposing its staff to cybercrime training, and the Director of Public Prosecution and Justice of Appeal attended such seminars in Brazil.
Large contingents of legal experts from Caribbean to attend Inaugural Hague Conference
Georgetown, GINA, July 11, 2016
The Hague Conference on Private International Law which will be held in Guyana from July 13 to 15 is seen as very important for this country. Its Secretary General, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi is hopeful that the specific outcome of the conference will be Guyana becoming a member of the body.
Secretary General of Hague Conference on Private International Law, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi
This will see Guyana benefitting from assistance for technical support which translates into real impact on Guyanese and commercial operations in cross – border deals.
Dr. Bernasconi, speaking with media operatives today, after meeting with President David Granger explained that, “This is with no doubt the most important in terms of the quality of attendees coming. We have more than 200 experts from the Caribbean region coming from more than 20 different states so we are delighted to be here. (We are) most grateful for the president’s personal support and involvement.”
The Hague Conference on Private International Law is an International Non-Governmental Organisation that has developed a wide range of treaties and conventions regarding family law and the cross-border protection of children.
“You haven’t protected a single child by just signing up to the convention, you need a machinery to actually enforce it, and this is where the Hague child protection conventions come into play, and we are delighted to be here for this regional meeting,” the Secretary General outlined.
The upcoming meeting is the third of its kind for the Caribbean region, with the first being held in Bermuda and the second in Trinidad and Tobago.
Further the Hague Conference comprises 81 members including the European Union along with 60 states that are party to at least one of the conventions.
President David Granger interacting with Secretary General of Hague Conference on Private International Law, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams and HCCH’s Latin America’s Representative Ignacio Goicoechea before talks on the upcoming Hague Convention Conference
Dr. Bernasconi believes that Guyana becoming a member of the Hague Conference on Private International Law will provide two direct benefits.
“First…Guyana would then be invited to all our meetings, have a voice around the table and participate actively in negotiation of new treaties, but Guyana would also have a priority access to technical assistance which might be important for the implementation of some of these conventions which might be a bit technical as this cross-border stuff can be difficult… being a member comes with its important advantage that you can rely on a priority basis on our technical assistance,” Dr. Bernasconi explained.
He added that when Guyana becomes a full member, it will be amongst the very first states in the region to do so along with Suriname, as other Caribbean States are only connected by being a party to a convention.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal, Affairs Basil Williams in an invited comment explained that an opening session will be held Wednesday evening and would be declared open by President Granger.
“The issues deal, on the first day, with child protection, child abduction, child adoption, child maintenance and custody…the law that would determine which country would be seized in terms of determining the questions – whether it was Guyana, the cross- border country, America, Canada or Brazil, Venezuela,” Minister Williams explained.
The Attorney General added that the conventions relating to commerce, legal cooperation, cross – border trade, and human rights among other things will be dealt with on the second day of the conference.
“These conventions largely impact the Guyanese people in a positive way, the business community also because, once you sign on to the conventions, for example the World Bank would rate you higher as a place to do business, and there are different aspects of those conventions that would facilitate easy trading between countries, legal certainty and protection of our investment…the choice of court and choice of law in the case of any disputes,” Minister Williams explained.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams
This means that the Bar Association, Private Sector, and Non-Governmental Organisations which deal with children will be involved in the upcoming conference.
Additional participation will be seen from Attorneys General and Ministers of Justice from within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Judges including Caribbean Court of Justice President, Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has nominated two judges to participate, which will complement the participation of judges from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Suriname.
“Almost immediately upon the closure of the conference, the president has already indicated that he definitely will want to be a member and take the benefits of capacity building and signing on to conventions and other technical assistance… so we will work in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in that regard,” Minister Williams said.
GUYANA EYES KEY CONVENTIONS –to improve trade and human rights
July 10, 2016
Attorney General Basil Williams
AS GUYANA prepares to host the Hague Convention Conference from July 13-15, Attorney General Basil Williams has said Guyana would consider becoming a member of the Hague Conference on Private and International Law (HCCH), so as to access pertinent legal conventions that would benefit the country’s trade and human rights’ interests.Facilitated through a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Attorney General’s Office, in partnership with UNICEF Guyana and the HCCH, the Hague Convention Conference will be held at the Pegasus Hotel under the theme “International Family Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce, Promoting Human Rights and Cross-Border Trade in Guyana through the Hague Convention.”
HCCH Secretary General Christophe Bernasconi
In an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Secretary General of the HCCH, Christophe Bernasconi, said this is the third conference that has been held in the Caribbean, and there is hope that Guyana would become the first country within the region to become a member of the HCCH, so as to access the benefits of the organisation.
He said the purpose of this conference is to promote the work of the HCCH in the field of human rights in regard to the protection of children in cross-border situations and other child abduction and child protection matters; as well as strengthening the rule of law, which would enable commercial operators to have legal certainty before they decide to do business in foreign jurisdictions, thereby fostering international trade and business.
THE APOSTILLE CONVENTION
One of the most important conventions held with the HCCH is the Apostille Convention, which Bernasconi said helps to promote trade and congress among countries by providing an internationally recognised certificate that confirms the authenticity of public documents that are used in foreign jurisdictions to conduct trade.
“We have dozens of stories where foreign investors potentially wanted to invest in a jurisdiction, until they realised that they have to go through all this paperwork, (wherein) they are asked to produce a document several times before they establish business in another jurisdiction. The Apostille Convention cuts all of those formalities; and so, many of them decide to put their money in a state that is party to the Apostille Convention, to avoid this,” the Secretary General said.
Such a document, Williams said, can provide much benefit for Guyana in terms of trade relations, and is therefore one of the interests that Guyana holds in hosting the conference.
“We are on the threshold of breaking out economically, and we want to know that our business people will have the opportunity to do business with ease,” Williams said. He added: “You get points in the economic world when people know that you are a signatory to conventions and, better yet, when you’re a member; it makes you an attractive place to do business with.”
CHILD PROTECTION CONVENTIONS
Bernasconi added that the conventions relating to child protection, abduction, and other children’s rights’ violations can help to operationalise the rights within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which are also embedded in the Guyana Constitution.
“The UNCRC outlines establish a list of fundamental rights and principles in the best interest of the child, but I always like to say that you haven’t protected a single child by signing on to this convention, because it doesn’t come with the machinery that puts these fundamental rights into operation,” Bernasconi said.
And even without specific statistics relating to child abduction and other such matters in Guyana, Williams said, these cases do exist, thereby making signing on to these conventions important.
“We are a cross-border country; we have Guyanese in Suriname, Venezuela and Brazil, and we even have Guyanese in Caricom countries as well; and there are many such cases of parents taking children away to other countries while the other parent remains. So these are very relevant conventions (in regard) to these issues,” Williams said.
Moreover, signing on to these conventions would allow for awareness that such protections for children exist, and promote more reporting of cases of abduction of children and other violations of children’s rights, Bernasconi said.
THE HAGUE CONFERENCE
The HCCH was established in 1983; to date, it has 81 member states. With the freedom to sign on to the conventions without taking up membership, however, the conventions under the HCCH have been signed by 148 states (members included). Bernasconi has said that the benefits of becoming a member are twofold, in that Guyana can serve as a key decision-maker when new conventions are being negotiated, thereby impacting international issues; and Guyana can access the support provided by the network provided by the organisation.
The upcoming conference will address certain conventions, like the Apostille Convention, the Child Abduction Convention, the Chile Protection Convention, and the Adoption Convention, among others. Even without becoming a member, Guyana can sign on to specific conventions, and gain access to international laws that would assist in the solving of critical matters relating to trade and human rights’ issues provided under these conventions.
Moreover, the HCCH also provides an International Hague Network of Judges, which provides direct judicial communications among the signatory states to these conventions in aiding to provide rulings and other determinations for cross-border issues.
Williams said Guyana intends to appoint two of its judges to be part of this network; this announcement will be made during the three-day conference.
Targeted visits – banks, cambios, jewellery firms on FATF radar
July 8, 2016
Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams
THE Attorney General’s office will conduct a sensitisation campaign ahead of a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) delegation in September, which will examine whether this country is fully committed to implementing reforms to address money-laundering and terrorist-financing deficiencies At a recent meeting of FATF in Busan, Korea, the global monitoring body said, according to a release from the AG’s Chamber, “Guyana has fully addressed at a technical level, all the items on the Action Plan which was agreed with the FATF.”
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams, represented Guyana at that meeting in June. The Legal Affairs Minister’s sensitisation campaign spans July 21 to August 4. Agencies considered as priority by the ministry include the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and the Special, Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
Also named are the Bank of Guyana; Cooperatives and Friendly Societies; the Guyana Securities Council; the Gaming Authority; the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA); and the Guyana Gold Board. A number of banks, money transfer agencies, security companies, licensed gold dealers, and pawnbrokers are also named as priorities.
Currently, Guyana has an Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act in place, along with other related legislation governing supervisory bodies, financial institutions, law enforcement, and foreign affairs.
The National Assembly, in May, passed the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill 2016. In 2015, it had also passed the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Bill; the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill Nos. 1 and 2; and the AML/CFT Regulations, all in keeping with recommendations made by FATF and CFATF.
“Guyana has significantly improved its overall level of compliance, and, most importantly, Guyana has fully addressed the core and key recommendations,” CFATF had said during that plenary meeting.
In November, 2013, CFATF had identified Guyana as a country with significant strategic deficiencies in its AML/CFT regime.
By May, 2014, the regional financial watchdog body sounded an alarm, calling on member countries to safeguard themselves from Guyana.
“Members are therefore called upon to implement further counter-measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money-laundering and terrorist-financing risks emanating from Guyana,” CFATF had said, even as it announced its referral of Guyana to the FATF.
CFATF members were encouraged to enhance their due-diligence measures, introduce enhanced reporting mechanisms or systematic reporting of financial transactions; refuse the establishment of subsidiaries or branches or representative offices in Guyana.
Additionally, it was clearly stated that countries should minimise their business relationships or financial transactions with Guyana and even persons within the country.
But now that the tide is changing, the business community can expect Guyana’s removal from the ‘Light Grey List’ in the not-too-distant future.