Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Public has access to prosecutors’ code


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MEMBERS of the public will finally be informed about decisions made by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to institute legal proceedings.

Last Wednesday the department which is responsible for national prosecution service in Barbados launched the Code For Public Prosecutors, a booklet which contains principles which the department applies when carrying out its work.

The ceremony was held at the Baobab Towers, Warrens St Michael and attended by Chief Justice Marston Gibson, United States Ambassador to Barbados, Larry Palmer and several prosecutors.

In his address, DPP Charles Leacock told the gathering that the code was designed to ensure structured decision making so that there will be transparency in all the decisions made.

“The public will also have the right to see what criteria we use when we make decisions to prosecute,” he said, pointing out that the code was conceived by his department with technical assistance and advice form the American Justice Assistance Programme to the Caribbean.

He said the code will be available to police, magistrates, lawyers, the public as well as members of the media, which he specifically singled out as being vital in the transmission of information.

“The production of the code is merely another step along the way to provide greater transparency and to have a symbiotic relationship with the press and the public so that we all will be on the same page.”

In terms of the media he added that they would have access to relevant material wherever possible and at the appropriate time.

“The media has a vital role to play and we appreciate and understand that role. You as a responsible media have the right to question decisions and you also have the right to seek information on the status on criminal matters. Justice is not a closeted virtue and you have the right to even criticize decisions that are made once you do so within the bounds of good decency, propriety and in good faith,” Leacock added.

Reminding prosecutors about their role in his address, Chief Justice Marston Gibson told them their job was not only to secure a win.

“Your job is as much to put the people’s position as well as you can, but being constantly aware that your goal is justice. Your goal is not just to win. So in those circumstances where you see for one reason or other your case is not one which ought to be pursued, you have to, as a minister of justice concede the point, and that is one of the things which comes out very clearly in your code of conduct for prosecutors,” he stressed.

He warned them that it did not mean that they should roll over and play dead.

“The code does not require you because you are a minister of justice to be a minister of the cloth,” he stated.

Gibson also announced that efforts were underway to deal with domestic violence and to speed up the process of trying cases.




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