Trinidad and Tobago to collaborate with Canada to improve criminal justice system

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — The governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Canada have agreed to collaborate and share best practice and policies with respect to prison and forensic services.

Both Commonwealth nations have agreed to strengthen bilateral co-operation in criminal justice system reform as it relates to security and intelligence, prison facility planning, offender management, juvenile justice as well as correctional programmes and practices.

The minister of justice, Senator Christlyn Moore, and a team of senior justice officials visited Canada during the period April 22 to April 28, 2013.

Among the facilities that the justice team visited were the Division of Anatomical Pathology (Eastern Ontario Regional Forensic Pathology Unit) of the Ottawa Hospital, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Correctional Service Canada (CSC).

At the Ottawa Hospital, the visiting delegation met with its senior officials to discuss the operations of the Forensic Pathology Unit, its work flows and quality assurance mechanisms. The team also received a tour of a modern post-mortem room.

Ottawa’s Forensic Pathology Unit extended an offer, which was accepted by the ministry of justice, to visit the pathology section at the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Centre with a view to assisting in the upgrade of the quality assurance capacity of the local forensic facility in Trinidad and Tobago.

The delegation also visited the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa where the parties discussed the operations of the RCMP’s forensic laboratories and their DNA data bank.

The information gathered by the justice officials will inform a user brief for the development of a request for proposal for the construction of the new state of the art forensic science centre.

As regards prisons/correctional services, the justice team met with Commissioner Don Head and other senior officials of Correctional Service Canada (CSC) to discuss the operationalization of the memorandum of understanding that was signed between the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service and the CSC on May 1, 2012. Both parties reviewed opportunities for co-operation in offender management, prison reform, offender reintegration and pre-release programmes.

Re-affirming Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment to the MOU, Moore more told the meeting that “The Canadian model is one that we want to pay particular attention to in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Moore highlighted that juvenile justice was another area for co-operation. In that regard, she welcomed the sharing of her Canadian counterpart, Rob Nicholson. He spoke to the establishment of “separate plant and processes” for dealing with juveniles in the justice system.

Moore also signalled that a team from her ministry will visit Canada later this year for a study tour of the Canadian juvenile justice system in order to gather best practice and standards to inform a juvenile justice policy for Trinidad and Tobago.

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