Jamaica to host Witness Care Conference
Major stakeholders in the justice and law-enforcement sectors have joined forces to stage the country’s first-ever Witness Care Conference to be held at the Faculty of Law at The University of the West Indies on July 19 and 20.
The conference is a special initiative of the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Project, which is a Canadian government-funded programme implemented by the Ministry of Justice and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Jamaica.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, Canadian High Commissioner Laurie Peters, and UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio are scheduled to address the event. The conference will feature international speakers including a child court administrator from Trinidad and Tobago and a Canadian jurist, as well as local justice sector experts.
The Ministry of Justice, in a release, on Friday, advised that the care, protection and welfare of witnesses will take centre-stage on Friday and Saturday, with a heavy focus on raising awareness about the importance of witnesses to law and order, and the implementation of best practices to strengthen and support the participation of citizens in court processes in Jamaica.
Local experts on witness care will present on panels along with their Trinidadian and Canadian counterparts. Following the panel discussions, a conference document will be produced on the outcome of the sessions, which should lead to a blueprint for the formulation of improved policies on witness care in Jamaica.
The conference will commence with a public forum under the theme ‘Comparative Perspectives on Witness Care, Challenges, Best Practices and Lessons Learned’.
A wide range of topics will be covered during the conference, all of which are solution-oriented and strategy-focused. These include: creating an enabling environment for witness safety and security; psychosocial interventions and services for witnesses and the treatment of children and other vulnerable witnesses; during the trial process.
The conference will also benefit from the insightful presentation and participation of several key government agencies, including the Ministry of Justice’s Victim Services Division, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, and the Court Management Services.