Photo credit IWN
This country’s former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), now High Court Judge in Belize, Colin Williams, has been lauded for the significant role he played in the initiation of the process leading to Wednesday’s historic launch of the National Prosecution Services (NPS).
Acting DPP Sejilla Mc Dowall and her staff also came in for high praises for the work done in continuing the process.
The commendations came from members of the legal fraternity, locally, regionally and internationally at the NPS launch at the House of Assembly Hall.
The former DPP, in his remarks, said the idea of the NPS dated back as far as 2010, with the early prosecutorial training of police officers under the leadership of then Commissioner of Police Keith Miller. He noted that this was strengthened in 2015, with the DPP’s Office acquiring its own building, and the subsequent placing of a number of police prosecutors there, bringing them under the direct supervision of the DPP on a day to day basis, and making it easier for them to acquire continuous legal and prosecutorial training. He commended then Commissioner of Police Reynold Hadaway for his assistance and cooperation in making this move a reality.
All prosecutors are accountable to the DPP Williams said that when Hadaway wanted to recall certain officers he needed for other duties, he didn’t just recall them, but consulted with him first.
Wiliams also highlighted the several publications of the DPP’s Office, including the Code for Prosecutors which has been in existence as early as 2010.
Wiliams added that Belize had just gotten to the stage of the Prison Video Link System which has been ongoing here for some years now.
He was pleased with the continuation of publications by the DPP’s Office, in an effort to keep the public informed.
He pointed out that, while SVG is small in size, great things are happening here.
“I am very pleased with what I see, and I am very happy with how things are going”.
McDowall highlighted increase and blossoming of the legal and administrative staff, as well as interns at the DPP’s Office. She also underscored the critical role of witnesses.
“Witnesses are at the root of what we do at the DPP’s Office. Without witnesses, the Criminal Justice System will crumble”, she explained.
McDowall said the DPP’s Office has embarked on a witness empowerment programme, and legislation is in place for witnesses to give evidence from outside the court room.
She noted that the NPS is a national institution which is all about forging national partnership and determination.
Captain Errington Shirland of the Regional Security System (RSS), based in Barbados, in his presentation, urged, “Remember that you are here to serve the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. You must always be accountable to the people”. He highlighted the principles of honesty, integrity and fairness.
Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Janice Pereira whose remarks were read by resident High Court Judge Brian Cottle, suggested that a witness code for SVG could be a positive step which can be replicable throughout the Eastern Caribbean.
Periera stressed that Crime Prevention, and maintaining the rule of law involve the efforts of all stakeholders.
She pointed out that “When a witness with relevant evidence fails to come forward, it weakens the Justice System”.
She noted that many witnesses to crime refuse to come forward, and commended SVG for taking steps to put in place measures to protect witnesses.
Justice Cottle, in his remarks, stressed the importance of having citizens, who reveal criminal activities empowered, protected, and even rewarded, and expressed gratitude to the DPP and staff for the steps taken in this direction.
Several other persons addressed the historic forum, including Sarah Abraham, Criminal Justice Advisor for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean; Don Suter, former Criminal Justice Adviser; Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne; President of the local Bar Association Rene Baptiste; Opposition Senator and lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, and Attorney General Jaundy Martin, who delivered remarks on behalf of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who could not be there because of a Cabinet Meeting, and preparation for Parliament, scheduled to sit the following day.
The launch was held under the theme, “Speak up, it can be you! Share Personal Encounters and Accurate Knowledge – Unleash Power”.(VIN)