Advancing Justice Sector Reform in Guyana by Training Prosecutors and Magistrates
A multi-national team of New Perimeter lawyers worked with the Government of Guyana on a Justice Sector Modernization project.
As part of this project, New Perimeter designed and implemented innovative simulation-based workshops for magistrate judges and prosecutors on criminal trial skills. In addition, New Perimeter researched and drafted two comprehensive desk reference manuals for magistrate judges and prosecutors.
To administer the workshops, New Perimeter sent more than a dozen lawyers to Georgetown, Guyana. While in Georgetown, New Perimeter lawyers trained virtually all of the country’s magistrates on advanced trial management skills, a new anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture law and international best practices in bail setting as part of an intensive two-day workshop. Simultaneously, New Perimeter trained more than 40 police prosecutors, prosecutors and senior investigators on presenting and cross-examining witnesses, introducing documents and physical evidence, establishing chain of custody for physical evidence, and introducing confessions and witness identification evidence. This training is considered to be of particular importance for police prosecutors because they are responsible for handling a high percentage of Guyana’s criminal prosecutions and have little preparation for it.
A former British colony and the only English-speaking country in South America, Guyana faces many development challenges: a vulnerable economy, rising crime, continued out-migration, a backlogged judicial system and human trafficking. A recent survey of Guyanese manufacturing firms showed that 43 percent of those that had used the courts in the two prior years identified the legal system and conflict resolution in Guyana as a major or severe obstacle to business operations. To combat these challenges, the Government of Guyana invested considerable resources, with the support of multilateral institutions and lenders, in large scale reform efforts. In 2006, the government launched a massive multi-year Justice Sector Modernization Program to provide “safety, security and access to justice for all” and to deliver “a justice system that is more trusted, accessible, and accountable and works together to deliver all necessary services efficiently and effectively.” The assistance provided by New Perimeter is one component of this reform initiative.