Strengthening the Guyanese Criminal Justice System (2015 - 2019)
Guyana is a small South American country bordering Venezuela, Suriname and Brazil. In recent years there has been a significant increase in violent crime, murder and armed robbery. Gun crime was reported by the Guyana Police Force to have risen by 27% in 2014 based on the same period as 2013. Domestic violence is rife with 4000 reports of domestic violence in 2014. Guyana also suffers from an increase in illicit drug smuggling due to its location; organized criminal gangs are trafficking cocaine that largely originates in Peru, Colombia and Bolivia to Africa, Europe and North America from Guyana’s coast.
In 2015 JES was commissioned to carry out a diagnostic on Guyana's Criminal Justice System by the Canadian High Commission and the US Embassy in Guyana.
Guyanese judges, magistrates, prosecutors, lawyers and police all participated in identifying the priority areas for strengthening the capacity of the Guyanese justice system and JES put together recommendations for a two year program which would tackle rising transnational crime based in the capital, Georgetown.
In August 2015, JES began implementing a $750,000 two year program, Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program of Global Affairs Canada, that would help to address the serious concerns identified in the diagnostic mission.
The project is being implemented under the direction of a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) with representatives from the Minister of Public Security, Guyanese Police Force, the Minister of Legal Affairs, The Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Guyanese Judiciary. All project activities will be delivered in Georgetown with technical assistance provided by Canadian legal experts.
The ‘Strengthening the Guyanese Criminal Justice System’ project in Guyana is focused on two outcomes:
1. Increase knowledge and skills of:
2. Increase access to forensic video analysis and crime scene equipment
The project will focus on skills and training and includes a holistic multi-phase process to build the capacity of the justice system. This involves diagnosing needs and emerging issues; training personnel through a “train the trainer” model to ensure sustainability; supporting the development of institutional structures; procuring needed equipment; providing coaching; and ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
JES trainers will include representatives from the Police and Department of Public Prosecution. By the end of the project, up to 13 training sessions and seminars will have been delivered by Canadian experts reaching over 200 Crime Scene Technicians, Investigators, Police Prosecutors, Public Prosecutors, Magistrates, and High Court Judges.
JES training in major case management is mentioned in the recent Guyana Police Force media release published on May 4 2016.
The goal of this project is to strengthen the integrity and responsiveness of Guyana’s justice system. This project will build on the current Canadian funded JES justice reform project in Guyana and will allow for expanding the work currently being done in Georgetown to the entire country. The project is running from July 2016-February 2019 and is funded with over USD 946,000
The objectives are:
1) To strengthen the Guyanese criminal justice system by improving the investigation of crime and crime scenes, case preparation, and trial advocacy, and ensuring media and public support for justice system reform.
2) To develop the capacity of the Guyanese criminal justice system to collect and effectively analyze CCTV camera digital evidence recorded at a crime scene.
Activities focus on:
The new project proposal builds on the foundational work in progress from the existing Canadian-funded Strengthening the Guyanese Criminal Justice System. This proposal brings a national scope to the project and aims to build capacity within the criminal justice system in a comprehensive manner and provide training to the majority of police officers, prosecutors, police prosecutors and magistrates and high court judges across the entire country. JES has carefully developed this proposal to ensure that the respective projects’ objectives and scopes complement one another, without duplication of efforts.
The JES program is innovative and includes detailed plans for sustainability. JES does not focus simply on training but approaches the justice system development holistically in a multi-phase process involving: diagnosing needs and issues; training personnel, replicated in a “train the trainer” model; creating or enabling institutional structures and procedures; providing required equipment; and providing ongoing coaching, monitoring and evaluation. Success stories and impacts are documented in reports and film clips throughout the life of the project.