Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Carl W. Bethel, QC, recently hosted officials from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and The Bahamas’ Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) to a Stakeholder Meeting at the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Paul L. Adderley Building, John F. Kennedy Drive. The Attorney General was accompanied by Minister of State for Legal Affairs, the Hon. Elsworth Johnson; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Marco Rolle; Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Sonia Culmer; Danya Parker-Wallace, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs, Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs; Shane Miller, Assistant Director of Legal Affairs, Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, and Loren Klein, Consultant, Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.
The Stakeholder Meeting afforded IDB and CSJP officials the opportunity to provide the Attorney General with an update on the progress of Component III of the Citizens Security and Justice Programme, which focuses on the further strengthening of the Administration of Justice System. Attorney General Bethel said there is “a unity of purpose” and commitment on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, and the various government ministries/agencies involved in the project, to the success of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme. “We realize that we cannot keep doing the same things, the same ways, expecting different results,” Attorney-General Bethel said. “The project provides opportunities for us to re-imagine, particularly with regards to the treatment of young offenders, and further opportunities as to what can be done to turn things around; what can be done to intervene earlier, and so it is critically important.”
Dr. Dorcas Cox, Project Manager, said the Stakeholder Meeting with the Attorney General was “part of the ongoing process to get an understanding from the stakeholder perspective. “The meeting enabled us to determine what value are we already providing; what value does he require in the future; is the project providing him (in this case) with the outputs he needs to realize the mandate and the vision and the mission of the Government of The Bahamas. The fact that the Attorney General embraces the programme and is committed to it, is wonderful news. It means that all we have to do is to keep him informed, keep him plugged in and engaged, and meet those expectations that he shared with us,” Dr. Cox added. Funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, the CSJP has four components, the first of which deals with Conflict Resolution in a non-violent manner.
Component Two addresses the lack of employability among young persons. Partnering with the Ministry of Labour (Department of Labour) and the National Training Agency, 2,600 young persons between the age of 15-29 will receive a cross-section of training targeted at soft skills instruction — communication, teamwork, proper job etiquette and technical skills training — with an opportunity to obtain some work experience in the hospitality and retail industries. Component Three focuses on the further strengthening of the Administration of Justice System; while Component Four deals with the rehabilitation and re-integration into society of offenders both in the adult population of the Bahamas Department of Corrections as well as the juvenile facilities, Simpson Penn Centre for Boys and the Willa Mae Pratt Centre for Girls. The CSJP calls for a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary approach “that necessitates the expertise of multiple ministries and governmental bodies, the business community, educators, the Clergy and Civil Society.”
Government ministries and their departments and agencies involved in the Programme include the Ministry of National Security (as the Government’s Executing Agency), the Ministry of Finance (Government liaison with the Inter-American Development Bank), Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Services. The Office of the Judiciary (Supreme and Magistrates’ Courts) is also a part of the Programme. “One of the major outputs in component three is an effective Integrated Case Management System across the entire Administration of Justice landscape. Stakeholders will be the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Supreme and Magistrates’ Courts, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Department of Corrections. “From arrest to trial, to conviction, all of those stakeholders play an integral role in criminal justice administration. And so the system is designed to bring technology to bear so that we can reduce the backlog by reducing the amount of paper we have to distribute. “The plan is to also improve communication across those various platforms and across those departments, enhance the scheduling and monitoring of cases, scheduling of cases, while ensuring that we have faster access to court transcripts. It’s a significant initiative.”