Directors of Public Prosecutions (DPPs) from seventeen Caribbean islands came together at a conference held in Miami on 31 October – 1 November to discuss some of the major challenges they face in prosecuting serious organised crime in the region, and to explore ways of overcoming the changing manifestations of criminality.
Barbados, the OECS countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Belize and the British Overseas Territories were all represented.
Conference delegates heard presentations from leading international experts in various areas of criminal law, including gang violence, social media evidence and leadership and management amongst other topics.
The conference highlights included a presentation by Ms. Claudette Thompson, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Jamaica, who addressed the obstacles to the successful prosecution of cases of gang violence, and the practical steps which can be taken to make a difference in the investigation and prosecution of gang violence;
On the second day, Mr. John Riesenberg, Associate Director, Department of Justice in Washington and Ms. Donna Babb Agard QC, DPP of Barbados, discussed the key challenges in using social media and computer evidence, explored the changes which must be made to legislation and procedures so as to make a positive difference, as well as the opportunities for regional and international collaboration in the use of social media and computer evidence.
Criminal Justice Adviser to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Sirah Abraham, whose post is funded by the United States of America and the United Kingdom, lauded the conference as yet another demonstration of the US’s and UK’s commitment to improving the investigation and prosecution of the criminal cases, not only in the light of the increasingly serious threats of gang violence, firearms and cyber practices faced by the region, but also the need to engender public confidence in the region’s justice system.
DPP Valston Graham from St Kitts and Nevis, praised the timeliness and relevance of the conference. He said “this was another extremely successful DPP conference. It was an excellent opportunity for the DPPs to come together and discuss important issues that affect the daily discharge of our duties. We had two days of vibrant and focussed discussions on a number of key issues. It is great to see how much this conference has grown and the impact it has created on the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions within the region. One of the recurring themes has been the constructive and beneficial network that has developed between the Directors since the inception of this conference. We appreciate the commitment of the organisers, who continue to demonstrate their willingness to develop the DPP offices in the region.”