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Jul 28, 2005

Prosecutors leave court for a week of training

Story PictureThis week Magistrate’s Courts nationwide have been quiet as the Chief Justice agreed to suspend all trials to allow police and civilian prosecutors to undergo special training. Those sessions, sponsored by the United States Justice Department in cooperation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, are designed to improve the trial skills of those on the front lines of Belize’s judicial system. News Five spoke with D.P.P., Kirk Anderson, about the closed-door meetings going on at the Supreme Court building in Belize City.

Kirk Anderson, Director of Public Prosecutions
?We are overall very thankful to the United States Department of Justice and the persons, we have five lecturers in all who have come down for the purpose of conducting this training. As part of this training, they are also engaging our prosecutors in moot court sessions, meaning mock court sessions whereby my prosecutors are being guided on how to give closing addresses, opening statements, how to go about cross examining witnesses and examining witnesses in chief. All in all it?s very useful and I think very positive results will arise.?

?I think overall, our prosecutors are doing quite well and I think our police officers are doing quite well with the limited resources that they have, but can we do better? The answer is yes. That?s our challenge and we are always going to be working towards achieving that objective.?

News Five also asked the D.P.P. what his office needs most right now to become more effective in the administration of justice.

Kirk Anderson
?More staff. That?s what we would want; more staff, because we have a lot of cases around the country. We would love to have our prosecutors be able to adequately and efficiently supervise prosecutions in the Magistrate?s Courts. We would love for our prosecutors to not have to be moving from one case to the next from one day to the next. We?d like to be able to form units dealing with specific types of cases as and when the need arises. So you have a special unit that deals with murder and manslaughter, a unit that deals with sexual offences, a special unit that deals with children offences. We?d also though, if we were able to get some more finance, we?d want to put some money into victim support, whereby a segment of our office could deal with interacting with victims and helping victims to rebuild their respective lives, and rebuild what they had prior to having the crime having occurred to them, perhaps even devastated them. That is something that we feel is important as well.?

At the moment the Office of Public Prosecutions consists of only five attorneys: the D.P.P, two senior crown counsels and two crown counsels. Although all trials in Magistrate’s Court were suspended this week, arraignments continued uninterrupted.

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