Strengthening the Guyanese Criminal Justice System (2015 - 2021)
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. In 2014 the Guyana Police Force reported that gun crime rose by 27% based on the same period as 2013. Domestic violence was 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 from Guyana’s coast to Africa, Europe and North America.
In 2015 JES was commissioned by the Canadian High Commission and the US Embassy in Guyana to carry out a diagnostic on Guyana's Criminal Justice System. 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 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 was 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 were 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. Increased access to forensic video analysis and crime scene equipment
The project focused on skills and training and included a holistic multi-phase process to build the capacity of the justice system. This involved 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 included representatives from the Police and Department of Public Prosecution. At the end of the project, 13 training sessions and seminars were 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 was to strengthen the integrity and responsiveness of Guyana’s justice system. This project was built on the previous Canadian funded JES justice reform project in Guyana, allowing the work done in Georgetown to be expanded to the entire country. This phase of the project ran from July 2016-February 2019.
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 focused on:
This proposal brought a national scope to the project, aimed to build capacity within the criminal justice system in a comprehensive manner and provided training to the majority of police officers, prosecutors, police prosecutors, magistrates, and high court judges across the entire country. JES developed this proposal to ensure that the respective projects’ objectives and scopes complemented one another, without duplication of efforts.
This innovative JES program included 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.
Funding from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. U.S. Department of State, has been extended another two years, due to its effectiveness. During the extension period, the project will continue providing training and coaching across the criminal justice system, working with the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Director of Public Prosecutions, and the judiciary to bring justice for all in criminal cases.
The focus will be on ensuring sustainability. In its work with the GPF, JES will continue building the capacity of the supervisors, implementing quality assurance procedures and tools that address deficiencies in investigations, and working more directly with police divisions by providing coaching and mentoring.
Part of the process of sustainability is handing over more responsibility to the recently trained GPF trainers who will, in turn, collaborate with international project experts to train their colleagues throughout the county. The project will also continue its collaboration with the judiciary of Guyana as they implement initiatives to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of the criminal justice system.