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DPP's office pushes for judicial reform

Published:Thursday | March 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said it is making every effort to push forward with sweeping judicial reform while abiding by the mission statement formulated in March 2008, within days of Paula Llewellyn, QC, taking office as Jamaica's first female DPP.

"The mission of the Office of the DPP is to fulfil its constitu-tional mandate by providing the people of Jamaica with an independent, professional and effective prosecution service that operates with integrity, inspires public trust and confidence and safeguards the administration of justice throughout the island of Jamaica," the statement reads.

Llewellyn, who celebrates her second year as DPP tomorrow, explains that various units are established at her office so that matters can be dealt with expeditiously. At the com-mencement of her tenure, she said there were 30 prosecutors. Now she has a staff of 41 prosecutors and three paralegal clerks.

Code of conductfor prosecutors

Steps are now being taken at the Office of the DPP to formulate a code of conduct for prosecutors, similar to what exists in England and other countries.

"This code will be formulated to ensure that transparency and accountability are maintained by prosecutors so that, in essence, there can be codified guidelines in respect of a decision to prosecute or not to prosecute," Llewellyn says.

The code is expected to be completed this year and will be published on the website of the Ministry of Justice. The public will be able to ascertain the status of cases for prosecution and reasons given if a case cannot go forward.

Llewellyn points out that any vision of a modern prosecutorial service capable of achieving its mandate and assuming its proper leadership role in Jamaica's justice system will require significant resources - both human and financial.

She said that notwithstanding financial constraints, the DPP's office had, on occasions, used self-help to contribute to a facelift last year.

Aiding police, court staff

Llewellyn is now in the process of implementing guide-lines to assist the police and court staff with the challenges they face with cases that come for trial under Section 31 (D) of the Evidence (Amendment) Act. The guidelines, she says, will help them to go the extra mile and get details from potential witnesses. The guidelines will also put them in a better position to assist the court and the defence. The section makes provision for statements to be admitted in evidence when witnesses are dead, cannot be found or have migrated.

Llewellyn is calling for public education programme to be implemented to sensitise Jamai-cans on the critical role wit-nesses play in the trial of cases. The justice system has been hobbled for years because of fear among witnesses that they and their families will be harmed by either criminals or corrupt cops.

In order to address the challenges facing the justice system, Llewellyn has stressed that all stakeholders in the justice system, as well as the general public, work together to re-establish trust, achieve greater access, efficiency and equality in the delivery of justice and in reinforcing the rule of law.

- B.G.