Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Guyana Judicial Asset Recovery Conference
March 27, 2023
The Honorable Justice Yonette Cummings Edwards Chancellor of the Guyana Judiciary (Acting),
The Honorable Justice Roxanne George Chief Justice of the Judiciary of Guyana (Acting),
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Esteemed judges, magistrates, and registrars
International Judiciary Partners, Civil Society, the Media, and Special Guests,
Good morning, all!
Welcome to today’s asset recovery conference. It is my honor to thank the Guyana Judiciary for co-hosting this event with the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).
As you may know, this is our second INL and NCSC event focused on asset recovery. Last July, we hosted our first in-person asset recovery workshop for law enforcement officers and prosecutors from Guyana. We brought together experts from across the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada to discuss the overall topic of asset recovery and specifically conviction-based asset recovery. As a result of that workshop, we saw more law enforcement officers and prosecutors investigate and bring asset recovery cases before the courts using the knowledge they had gained.
We are happy to support this second asset recovery event this year to share best practices and experiences on adjudicating these matters. And, we look forward to future asset recovery investigations, trials and prosecutions of cases in Guyana.
Today we are thrilled to welcome a distinguished panel of expert speakers from across the Caribbean region who are partnering with us to host this important event. Our experts will address the issue of recovering virtual currencies, the relationship between civil forfeiture and the Constitution, and the importance of prosecutor and defense statements in confiscation matters. Additionally, this conference seeks to provide an avenue for understanding trends, discussing difficult but relevant issues, exploring new methods of solving problems to equip all members of the judiciary with the necessary tools to adequately adjudicate on these matters. We bring you together to not just train, but to connect you with other experts and to learn from you. I hope you share today the challenges that you face, solutions that you have developed, and new innovative approaches to consider. The discussion over the next two days — along with the practical exercises—is aimed at advancing capacity within the judiciary of Guyana to further promote timely and reasoned adjudication on asset recovery matters.
Asset recovery legislative frameworks are critical to taking the profit from crime. While we understand the challenge of reform, we encourage counterparts to update existing legislation to give judicial officers the best possible framework through which to adjudicate these cases. We hope this conference will be a step that leads to additional reform and ultimately, recovery of assets after a crime takes place.
This conference is well-timed as it comes in the midst of Guyana’s rapid economic transformation. It brings together regional partners to enhance knowledge of the law and share local, regional, and international best practices that will help build expertise in the areas of conviction-based and non-conviction-based asset recovery in Guyana. We hope that participants will leave the workshop with a shared sense of purpose, responsibility, and interest in adjudicating on asset recovery matters.
Of course, the U.S. Embassy is not just supporting these asset recovery workshops, but we’re doing so much more. We are proud of the assistance we have provided and the work done by partners on modernizing court systems and processes for the benefit of all Guyanese, including piloting a digital case management system for several courts. We also send judges, police, and other officials to training on everything from combatting wildlife and human trafficking, to advancing community engagement. The United States is your trusted partner, and we will proudly continue to support you, the Government of Guyana, and all Guyanese as you pursue a brighter future for all citizens.
Thank you for your participation and I wish you the very best over the two days of this conference.