The United States Government is funding a US$946,000 three-year programme aimed at strengthening Guyana’s criminal justice system.
This was announced today by US Ambassador Perry Holloway at the embassy’s location in Georgetown, who noted that the programme would be facilitated through the Justice Education Society (JES) and involves training of Law Enforcement officials and officials from other related agencies.
The main objective of the programme will be to increase “effective criminal investigation in Guyana that leads to strong prosecutions and trials by boosting the technical capacity of the police, prosecutors, and magistrates to work with criminal evidence in a supportive environment.”
Ambassador Holloway said the US through its engagements with the Attorney General (AG) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), recognized that “each component agency has an independent and constitutional role and function. We also recognize that outcomes are enhanced when each agency understands the work of the other and has confidence that best practices are being utilized when carrying out those responsibilities.”
He pointed out that between 2012 and early 2014 several agencies of the US Government completed a series of assessment reports which identified challenges existing in Guyana’s justice system extending from the police investigative procedures through to the criminal prosecution process.
Holloway also pledged his country’s continued support for initiatives that will ultimately lead to enhancing the criminal justice system here.
Meantime, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan in his address recognized that there are a number of deficiencies in the system, hence he welcomed the initiative as timely.
The Minister said he was impressed with the Civil Rights training aspect of the programme, pointing to a number of uncouth steps taken by members of the Guyana Police Force when taking evidence.
“Of course appreciation of the Civil Rights during the course of interrogation and investigation is so important, all of this will go to the better improvement of the fight against criminals whilst protecting the rights of those who are in a sense would be affected by that fight in accordance with the law,” Ramjattan pointed out.
Importantly, the Public Security minister said the image of a country is affected when there is a lack of proper investigation and prosecution, therefore it is imperative that these steps be taken.
Programme Manager for the Canada-based non-governmental organisation, Justice Education Society, Evelyn Neaman told the gathering that forensic evidence is critical to the strengthening of justice delivery.
She said the new proposal builds on the “work in progress” of the Canadian-funded “Strengthening the Guyanese Criminal Justice” project, “the US project brings a national scope to the work in progress and aims to build capacity within the criminal justice system in a comprehensive manner and provide training to the majority of the police officers, police prosecutors and magistrates across the entire country.”
Neaman boasted that the JES establishes respectful and productive partnerships, citing collaboration with related agencies such as the National Forensic Laboratory, the Public Security Ministry and the Judiciary among others.
The Programme is being funded by the US State Department through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).
The involvement of Britain and the European Union towards improving the delivery of justice in Guyana was also highlighted during the event.