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May 27, 2016

A Training Workshop for Lawyers and Medical Practitioners on Mental Health

Priscilla Banner

The bar and the judiciary, along with representatives of the Ministry of Health, gathered today at the Radisson for a training workshop on persons with mental health disorders and the criminal justice process.  The symposium, organized by the Belize Bar Association and the Death Penalty Project, culminates a three-day event which also included an academic seminar on the issue.  The Death Penalty Project, an organization in the UK, has been working closely with the bar and the magistracy in Belize for almost two decades.  President of the Bar Association, attorney Priscilla Banner, told News Five earlier today that the exercise was purposely aimed at both legal and medical sectors.


Priscilla Banner, President, Bar Association

“This is the last of a three-day series of activities.  It is a collaboration between the Death Penalty Project from the UK and the Bar Association of Belize.  On Wednesday we had the lecture by Professor Nigel Eastman and that was a lecture about mental disorders and the law.  Yesterday was the judicial colloquium with the UK Death Penalty Project, the bar and of course the magistrates and judges.  Today is a training workshop for lawyers.  Interestingly, and I’m very happy to say that we have attendance from the Ministry of Health, psychiatrists, mental health nurses et cetera.  But today is really a training workshop to sensitize the medical professionals and the legal professionals and to have a discourse on issues that normally arise in the execution of their duties, in respect of persons with mental disorders.”


Isani Cayetano

“And the level of involvement of the Death Penalty Project with regards to this particular training?”


Parvais Jabbar

Parvais Jabbar, Co-Executive Director, Death Penalty Project

“Well we have a longstanding history working together with lawyers and other people in Belize for over twenty years now.  So our experience comes from representing prisoners facing the sentence of death or serious offenses in their final appeals to the judicial committee of the Privy Council until it was replaced by the Caribbean Court of Justice.  We’ve been involved in many of the important constitutional appeals that have emanated from Belize.  So we have longstanding history, but the other aspect of our work is that we try to work with institutions and organizations like the Belize Bar Association, the Chief Justice’s Office, the judiciary and other NGOs and other important practitioners in this area to try and find ways in which it is not just providing litigation assistance but ways in which we can try to improve the capacity and expertise in specific areas that we have longstanding interests.  One of those areas is the issue of mental health within the criminal justice process.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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