Bridgetown- On June 15th, 2021, the Canadian Government funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project hosted a lecture and panel discussion to draw attention to the importance of implementing special regimes for legal aid for survivors of intimate partner violence (“IPV”). The event, which was held via Zoom, was attended by a wide range of stakeholders from 8 CARICOM countries who represented Ministries of Legal Affairs, Ministries with responsibility for Gender Affairs and Social Services, the Offices of Directors of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid Clinics and non-governmental organisations with particular focus on human rights and women’s rights. Representing the Government of Canada at the event were, Ms. Michele Gibson, IMPACT Justice Project Team Leader from the Caribbean Regional Development Program, Canadian High Commission in Bridgetown and Dr. Deborah Duperly-Pinks, Senior Development Officer and Gender Sector Coordinator, Canadian High Commission in Kingston.
The main presenter, Ms. Anika Gray, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus gave her presentation based on the findings and recommendations made in her desk review on the “Availability of Legal Aid for Survivors of Intimate Partnership Violence in St. Lucia, Jamaica and Guyana”. In presenting this paper at the lecture, Ms. Gray explained the international framework governing legal aid and the state of legal aid provision to IPV survivors at the country level for the three countries. She also assessed the problems associated with the provision of legal aid to IPV survivors and made several recommendations for how these services could be improved.
Panelists Shellon Boyce, Managing Attorney, Guyana Legal Aid Clinic and Ms. Sasheeka Richards, Legal Counsel, Jamaicans for Justice both highlighted the role played by their respective organisations in the delivery of legal aid services to survivors of IPV. They also mentioned some of the steps taken by their respective governments to address some of the concerns raised in Ms. Gray’s presentation and other avenues available for survivors to access legal aid services.
Professor Velma Newton, CBE, SCM, Regional Project Director of the IMPACT Justice Project chaired the session and noted that the lecture was just one other event under the Project’s Women and the Law, public legal education series.