Antigua and Barbuda’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Anthony Armstrong, joined DPPs from seventeen Caribbean islands at a recent virtual conference co-hosted by the United Kingdom and United States.
Conference notes said participants discussed the difficulties and challenges they collectively face, as organized-crime groups exploit structural vulnerabilities and benefit from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Armstrong joined DPPs from The Bahamas, Barbados Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the British Overseas Territories.
Conference delegates heard from regional and international experts on a range of issues, including the resumption of trials after COVID-19 and vulnerable witnesses in serious crime and sexual exploitation cases, recognizing the impact on children as online and offline sexual abuse increased.
The release said Justice of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago, Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds and Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, Director of Public Prosecutions from Belize, presented and led a discussion on trials held with judges alone, in the light of the ban on jury trials during the pandemic.
“DPPs were treated to a wellness session on productivity and managing stress by Mathew Brown, productivity ‘Ninja’. Legal and administrative issues faced by DPPs were the subject of a roundtable discussion led by Donna Babb-Agard, QC, DPP of Barbados, including appeals on points of law during trials and sentencing guidelines,” according to the release.
UK Chargé d’Affaires Craig Fulton, who opened the conference, said, “My hope is that DPPs can identify some of the regional best practices in the fight against serious organized crime and explore the potential for a collaborative approach in policy-making in these areas in the Caribbean.”
Criminal Justice Adviser to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Sirah Abraham, lauded the conference as yet another demonstration of the US’s and UK’s commitment to supporting the role of the DPP, especially in the context of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.