Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Basil Williams, and Canada’s Chargé d’Affaires, Sharmini Poulin, met with police, court prosecutors and state prosecutors, yesterday. They are undergoing training under the Canada-funded project “Strengthening the Guyanese Criminal Justice System” at the Police Training Centre.
The Government of Canada, through its Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programme (ACCBP), is providing funds to the Canadian NGO, the Justice Education Society (JES), to implement this project over a two-year period to the tune of C’dn$750,000 ($106 million).
This is Canada’s largest bilateral project with Guyana. The goal of the JES project is to develop the technical capacity of the police, police prosecutors, state prosecutors and magistrates to collect, analyse and present forensic evidence as a means of decreasing impunity rates.
The JES team has been visiting Guyana since last September and has commenced training activities within the Guyana Police Force on Major Case Management, Forensic Video Analysis and Crime Scene Management.
JES is a Canadian non–profit organization with an impressive record of improving the effectiveness of justice systems in Canada and around the world.
The JES programme in Central America has resulted in increased efficiency of criminal investigations, greater collaboration between institutions and reduced impunity rates. For example, in Guatemala, between 2009 and 2013, the conviction rate for violent crimes increased from five to 29 percent.
The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministries of Public Security and Legal Affairs, as well as the Office of the Chancellor of the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Guyana Police Force.
Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, has visited the trainings in session. He noted the “tremendous value” of targeting the police prosecutors, state prosecutors and the magistrates. Director of Public Prosecutions, Bibi Shalimar Ali-Hack, has attended training sessions and has praised the JES for the timeliness of the intervention and for “the wealth of knowledge imparted”.
Minister Williams reaffirmed the Government of Guyana’s commitment to strengthening the administration of justice in Guyana and thanked the Government of Canada for its ongoing support.
The Minister also noted that the training comes at a very opportune time when Government has undertaken to restore the rule of law, to deliver a justice system that is impartial, accessible and accountable and to ensure that crime is solved more quickly and efficiently.
“We are therefore pleased to partner with the Justice Education Society (JES) programme in Canada under the theme “Strengthening the Guyanese Criminal Justice System” in ensuring that we strengthen our capacity in solving crime by training our police prosecutors, crime scene investigators, state prosecutors, magistrates and forensic experts. “
Williams added that through intense consultation with stakeholders and views on crime prevention, criminal investigation and case management, the Guyana /Canada continuous cooperation has contributed greatly to the development of an even closer relationship between the criminal justice administrations of our two countries, Guyana and Canada.
“It is often said that economic development provides the basis for social stability, however, sustainable public peace, based on law and order, are inevitably needed to ensure the fruits of economic development.
“This training will therefore strengthen our capacity in crime scene investigation, forensic training, training of prosecutors and ultimately solving crime in a timely manner.”
Together with this common objective, Williams said that he is sure much can be done to help the government in giving the protection the people need and ensuring their safety and security. “With the initiatives that will hopefully create, and the programmes we will come up with through this activity, we shall likewise be able to contribute in preventing crime and building a society where peace and order reign.”
Poulin noted that this project is an important part of Canada’s contribution to strengthening the rule of law in Guyana. While observing that access to a competent and fair justice system is a fundamental human right.
Poulin reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to working to strengthen national justice systems in the region, by sharing Canadian expertise, improving access to and efficiency of the justice system, and providing training and mentoring programs for both police and justice officials.
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