BRIDGETOWN – During 2018, the Canadian Government funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project launched 2 protocol series, one entitled: IMPACT Justice Protocol Series: Working with Children in the Eastern Caribbean Justice System and the other entitled: IMPACT Justice Protocol Series: Working with Persons with Disabilities in the Eastern Caribbean Justice System.
Both series set out a number of guidelines that constitute specific instructions, consistent with international best practices and standards, designed to guide and regulate the interactions between children and persons with disabilities who come into contact with the justice system in the Eastern Caribbean and the following stakeholders:
- Defence Counsel (Booklet No. 1)
- Education Officers (Booklet No. 2)
- Judicial Officers (Booklet No. 3)
- The Police (Booklet No. 4)
- Prosecutors (Booklet No. 5)
- Social Workers, Probation Officers and Childcare Board Officers (Booklet No. 6)
- Staff at detention centres/ residential facilities (Booklet No. 7); and
- Staff employed at NGOs that work with children/ persons with disabilities (Booklet No. 8).
On October 25th, 2018, Professor Velma Newton, Regional Project Director of the IMPACT Justice Project officially presented copies of the protocols to Her Ladyship, The Honourable Dame Janice Periera, DBE, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court at a special ceremony at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Sub-Office, Renham Building, William Peter Boulevard Castries, St. Lucia. This ceremony was attended by Justices of Appeal, High Court Judges, and the High Court Master of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court as well as other members of the legal community.
In her remarks at the ceremony, Professor Newton stated that the Protocols represent an ongoing commitment by IMPACT Justice to engender the principles of integrity, excellence, accountability and professionalism in dealings with persons with disabilities who come into contact with the justice system. She also noted that although the Protocols do not have force of law; to be effective, all stakeholders should endeavour to do their utmost to adhere to the guidelines and directions prescribed therein, as, after all, the guidelines and directions represent international standards and best practices.
Copies of both Protocol Series are currently being distributed by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to various stakeholders across the OECS and IMPACT Justice has commenced distribution of the Protocols for children to the Faculty of Law Library of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, as well as to Ministries of Education, the Honourable Chief Justices and Commissioners of Police of Barbados, Belize, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago, as the international conventions on which they are based are applicable throughout the region.
Copies of both protocol series have also been uploaded to the IMPACT Justice website and can be accessed via the link http://caribbeanimpact.org/website/media-centre/.
It is hoped that these Protocols will be an invaluable resource for all stakeholders.