Tribute to Pioneering Jurist: Mme Justice Désirée Bernard

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) stands in solemn remembrance as it announces the passing of a trailblazing figure in the legal realm, Mme Justice Désirée Bernard. With profound sadness, the CCJ bids farewell to a pioneering jurist whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the course of Caribbean jurisprudence.

Mme Justice Bernard’s illustrious career was characterized by a series of groundbreaking achievements, establishing numerous “firsts” in the legal landscape of Guyana and the wider Caribbean. As the first female High Court Judge, Justice of Appeal, Chief Justice, and Chancellor of the Judiciary in Guyana, her ascent shattered glass ceilings and paved the way for future generations of women in the judiciary.

Beyond her remarkable judicial career, Mme Justice Bernard was a tireless advocate for gender equality and the advancement of women in law. Her leadership roles in regional and international organizations, including the Caribbean Women’s Association and the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, underscored her unwavering commitment to promoting gender justice and empowerment.

Her tenure on the CCJ Bench further solidified her legacy as a trailblazer, inspiring countless individuals within the judicial fraternity. CCJ President, the Hon. Mr Justice Adrian Saunders, aptly captured her impact, highlighting her pivotal role in shaping Caribbean jurisprudence and her enduring influence as a role model for future generations.

Mme Justice Bernard’s humility, kindness, and unwavering dedication to justice endeared her to colleagues and mentees alike. Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee fondly remembers her as a mentor and friend, whose self-effacing nature belied her profound impact on those around her.

In recognition of her exceptional contributions, Mme Justice Bernard received numerous accolades and honors, including national awards from Guyana and the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women. Her legacy lives on through the lives she touched and the transformative impact she had on the legal profession.

As the CCJ opens a condolence book to the public, the region pays homage to a legal luminary whose legacy will continue to inspire and guide future generations. Mme Justice Désirée Bernard’s pioneering spirit, unwavering commitment to justice, and dedication to gender equality will forever be cherished. May she rest in peace, and may her memory be a blessing to all who had the privilege of knowing her.

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