CCTV cameras can now be found in homes and businesses all over Guyana. The challenge of the proliferation of video evidence requires a response from all justice sectors. As such, investigators, police prosecutors, department of public prosecution (DPP) prosecutors, magistrates and representatives from the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory all benefitted from two one-day seminars on November 29 and 30, 2016 in Guyana under the Canadian funded ‘Strengthening the Criminal Justice System in Guyana’ project.
According to a statement from the Canadian High Commission in Georgetown, the seminars are in keeping with the project’s objective to develop the technical capacity of the police, police prosecutors, state prosecutors and magistrates to collect, analyse and present forensic evidence as a means of decreasing impunity rates.
It said the focus of the two seminars is to introduce the technology being used in the newly established Forensic Video Units at the Guyana Police Force and Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory. Further, the seminar provides the opportunity for cross sector understanding of the various role and functions with the introduction of forensic video evidence.
Through this project, the Justice Education Society (JES) has provided training and equipment to both the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory. The two agencies are establishing units with standardised operational procedures.
According to Evelyn Neaman, the Guyana Project Manager of the Justice Education Society of British Columbia (JES), JES`s experience with justice reform initiatives in other countries is that it is imperative that the different sectors of the justice system understand how this evidence is extracted, processed and secured and how it will be used in court.
The seminars included an overview of best practices in collecting video evidence and presenting and assessing video evidence at trial. The seminars were delivered by Canadian experts Judge Michael Hicks (retired) and Forensic Video Analysis Expert Mr. Brett Hallgreen.
JES is a Canadian non–profit organisation with an impressive record of improving the effectiveness of justice systems in Canada and around the world. The Guyana project is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministries of Public Security and Legal Affairs, as well as the Office of the Chancellor of the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Guyana Police Force.