(Jamaica Observer) The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has released a protocol document in response to the clamour by members of the public for transparency and accountability in the Jamaican justice system.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn said the publication of the protocol was the first step in the process of providing a much sought after and a promised fuller transparency.
Noting that she has been fully aware of the public’s cry, the DPP said she will be moving with her team to enhance the managerial structures and put in place systems to further assist with this process.
“This is part of my mandate to seek to demystify the prosecution process… given that we are coming back from years when so many of our institutions were so cloistered that members of the public who we served felt intimidated to ask questions,” Llewellyn said.
According to Llewellyn, the publication titled The Decision to Prosecute: A Jamaican Protocol will be a living document that will be revised periodically to reflect local and international development in prosecutorial practices and the relevant laws.
“This is also part and parcel of a wider plan to codify and reflect the modern evolution in the laws on disclosure,” Llewellyn said Tuesday as she addressed members of the Kiwanis Club of Kingston’s weekly luncheon meeting at the Wyndham Hotel in Kingston.
The DPP announced further that her office is now working with the Canadian International Development Agency and the Canadian Department of Justice that will be partnering with Jamaica to assist in the compilation of a larger code of conduct and operating manual for prosecutors. This, she said, will also be codified and launched when completed.
Additionally the DPP said her office will be publishing for the first time on its newly launched website, the statistics in respect of the rulings that have been received and delivered from this January to March 2012.
“You can be assured that I am conscious that part of my mandate in the 21st century is to be responsive and give as much access as is possible to the media and the public,” Llewellyn maintained.
She cited a recent incident where, while attending a conference at a hotel, she was approached by three female waitresses who wanted to know if she could free entertainer Vybz Kartel who has been behind bars since last year on murder related charges.
According to Llewellyn, she welcomed the question and was very happy to take the time out to explain to them the procedures which have to be undertaken before a jury decides if Kartel is to be freed or not.
“That was one tangible thing I reminded myself; that it is important that every member of the public, we who own responsible position as public servants have a duty in the 21st century to make ourselves available within reason and where appropriate to seek to explain to them,” she said.
She added further that the public is often misinformed on the workings of the prosecutor, having not taken into consideration the range of factors, including policy considerations and the public interest which determine the process.
“In addition, where the decision not to prosecute is based on an assessment of the sufficiency of evidence and prospects of securing a conviction the court will accord great respect and weight to the judgement of experienced prosecutors, so in our occupation we cannot afford to run with it and depend on hearsay but are guided not only by policy consideration but the rule of law,” she said.
Some topics covered in the protocol document include the definitions of certain terms; prosecutors ethical approach; the impartiality of the prosecutor; the prosecutor police and other investigators; the decision whether to prosecute, and the young offenders among others.