Guyana to host first regional Criminal Justice Reform conference from July 10-11

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See full statement from the Attorney General’s Chambers & Ministry of Legal Affairs:

The Government of Guyana, through the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, will host the first- ever ‘Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform- Advancing the Needham’s Point Declaration’, in the Region, to be held in Guyana, at the Marriott Hotel, Georgetown, on the 10th -11th July, 2024.

This seminal initiative is part of the Government’s agenda to modernise the country’s legal architecture and to continue to prepare the legal system of Guyana to meet the evolving demands of modern legal challenges.

This two-day Conference was conceptualised from a collaborative effort between the Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Academy for Law and is part of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded Support for the Criminal Justice System (SCJS) project in Guyana.

This Support for the Criminal Justice System (SCJS) project targets two key aspects of criminal justice reform aimed, inter alia, to help Guyana overcome prison overcrowding, by reducing pre-trial detentions and increasing the use of alternative sentencing, among other measures.

To this end, this mega landmark event is set to redefine the future of criminal law practice and procedures and will feature keynote speeches and panel discussions led by distinguished experts in the field of criminal justice in the Caribbean and aims to build on the significant progress made during the Caribbean Court of Justice Academy for Law’s 7th Biennial Conference held October, 2023, in Barbados, where the Needham’s Point Declaration was adopted as a commitment to improving criminal justice.

The Needham’s Point Declaration covers key areas related to criminal justice reform, including policy and legislative interventions, prosecution, police representation for the accused victims’ rights and judicial interventions. The declaration emphasizes the need for swift justice for the guilty and protection of the innocent.

The Attorney General has recently emphasised the importance of continuing legal education in Guyana. In this stead, and in keeping with the objective to educate, this Conference offers an opportunity for the continued discussion on best practices, experiences, and recommended actions for addressing critical issues within the criminal justice system.

The Conference will cover several topics, including but not limited to, eliminating case backlog, Criminal Procedure Rules, plea bargaining, Children’s Court experience, role and impact of Public Defender’s Office, Judge alone trials, dealing with DNA evidence in Court, Restorative Justice, the art of fact finding, sentencing guidelines and paper committals.

In this regard, the focus will be on enhancing continuous legal education in an effort to keep abreast with the transformative changes in the legal framework through shared knowledge and collaborative efforts which will serve well to equip all stakeholders in the Criminal Justice System to effectively implement and interpret new laws. This, the Attorney General stated, is aligned to the Government of Guyana’s transformative agenda.

A distinguished group of presenters and panelists have been identified for this event and, also, among the impressive list of invitees are Attorneys General from the Caribbean, Heads of Judiciaries, Judges, Directors of Public Prosecution, legal experts, law professors, policymakers, criminal defence attorneys, advocates, members of law enforcement, law students and members of civil society, all from across the region coming together for a comprehensive discussion aimed at advancing the Needham’s Point Declaration.

All persons interested in attending the ‘First Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform- Advancing the Needham’s Point Declaration’, may do so by registering before the 20th June, 2024, at guyanalegalconferece@gmail.com.

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