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Jul 27, 2011

And legal advisor says training has begun for prosecutors

Donelle Hawke

While the ABA ROLI team were examining and questioning members of the judiciary, change was occurring in the system. After the presentation, the President of the Bar offered comments on how public prosecution can be strengthened while the legal advisor for the Ministry of Police and the Police Department said that some training for public prosecutors has taken place.

Donelle Hawke, Legal advisor, Ministry of Police and Police Department

“We recognized that there are weaknesses in the system. However we have made some tremendous efforts in curing whatever ills exist in the system.  In the short term, what we’re trying to do is train our prosecutors. We have already sent all of the prosecutors countrywide to undergo training at the UWI in trial advocacy and we are looking to conduct further training with our prosecutors and our investigators as well. We’re also looking to draft a DNA act and to have our DNA lab implemented shortly thereafter. Those are some of the things that we are looking to do to enhance the system a bit and we’re looking to moving towards conviction because we understand there are a lot of ills in the system that need to be cured.”

Jose Sanchez

“When you say DNA lab, I’m sure that will make a lot of people happy because there are so many cases you hear of blood being on the scene, but we still can’t get a conviction. When you say soon—I know you can’t give a time frame—but you are talking a year, two years, three years?”

Donelle Hawke

“Well I am unable to give a time frame right now because we are looking to have our legal infrastructure in place first before we actually set up the lab. So there are a lot of things we have to work out before we get there, but we’re working towards it.”

Jacqueline Marshalleck

Jacqueline Marshalleck, President, Bar Association

“My initial impressions are that they seem to be accurate. As I indicated to ABA ROLI, there were some areas where we think we moved on. For example; the number of prosecutors in the department and what have you. But I am prepared to get this report out to all members and to ask them to carefully consider how we as an association can look to work on the negative factors that were revealed in the report. I think it was an important step to be taken. It’s excellent that it also comes from a body in the sense that is independent of Belize. So people should be prepared to trust the information for what it is. It is presented in an independent manner intended to help us. So now I think the association now has to take a careful look at what is being presented and see how we can play a role in moving forward. We have a number of students. The government has put a number of students—have sent off a number of students to Norman Manley Law School—they have been paying for their education. I expect that a number of them would have been bounded to perform work for the government and I think that they will need to look critically at where we can place those new attorneys in the system to try and help with some of these negative factors that have been identified.”

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