President-elect of the Caribbean Court of Justice, (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, has recommended a multi-stakeholder approach to tackle issues hampering the improvement of the Criminal Justice System in the Caribbean.
Addressing a gathering of judicial officers on the topic of “The Rule of Law and the Caribbean Court of Justice” at the University of Guyana’s 4th Conversation on Law and Society, Justice Saunders noted the deficiencies identified in the criminal justice system, threatens the rule of law.
During his presentation, Justice Saunders, listed insufficient investigations, limited forensic evidence and the inordinate lengths of time prisoners spend on remand pending trial among those deficiencies.
In this regard, he highlighted statistics released in 2013 which shows that 35 percent of Guyana’s prison population was on pretrial detention.
The figures, Justice Saunders called “very high” and having very serious human rights implications. “We need to do something about it.”
Justice Saunders said too that no effective criminal case management system and insufficient mechanisms to serve the needs of women, young girls and vulnerable persons. Justice Saunders believes there should be a multi-stakeholder approach in tackling the issue.
“We have a criminal justice system in the region that is broken in many countries and tackling it is difficult because it requires the coordination of several different systems, each with its own priorities. The CCJ judge, therefore called for a collective policy to help deal with the issue.
As such, he recommended that the prisons authorities, police, executive, Bar Association, prosecutorial, and defence lawyers across the Caribbean to sit together and be on the same page and agree to a raft of policy proposals that will carry the system forward and that kind of conversation needs to take place among those various stakeholders.
Commenting further on strengthening the rule of law, Justice Saunders noted that several elements of must be dealt with including procedural fairness, access to justice, independent and impartial judiciary, and protection against abuse and arbitrary use of power.
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