By Alexis RodneyThe United States (US) Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), on Friday launched a US$946,000 “Strengthening the Criminal Justice in Guyana” project at the US Embassy in Georgetown, to improve justice delivery in Guyana.Public Security Minister Khemraj RamjattanThe three-year programme, which will be led by the Canadian-based Justice Education Society (JES), aims at improving the quality of policing, prosecution and delivery of justice by the local judicial system.The launching programme saw the attendance of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Carl Singh, and members of the diplomatic corps.US Ambassador Perry Holloway said efforts are being made through the programme to increase effective criminal investigation in Guyana which will lead to strong prosecutions and trials. He said the Embassy has been working along with the Legal Affairs Ministry and the DPP to strengthen Guyana’s justice system.“During these engagements, we recognised that each component agency has an independent and constitutional role and function. We also understand that outcomes are enhanced when each agency understands the work of the other and has confidence that best practices are being utilised when carrying out those responsibilities”.Guyana Programme Manager JES Evelyn NeamanHe continued, “I’ve been in a lot of countries that have had many challenges with the judicial system. The countries that I have seen that have managed the most are the ones where the three legs of the justice, (the Police, Prosecutors and Magistrates), work together in their respective role… and that is the goal of this programme, to get the three sides to ensure that they understand each other’s role and how each other do it”.According to the Ambassador, the US is simply building on a project that was started by Canada and hopes that Guyana’s Government would take the project under its wings.“In the end, I certainly hope that that’s enough time to get the government involved. The Justice Sector belongs to the country and in the end I hope that government will continue the efforts”.Meanwhile, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, lauded the efforts of the United States Government. He said the programme, which will also see the training of Magistrates, will undoubtedly see a furtherUS Ambassador to Guyana Perry Hollowaystrengthening of the justice system in Guyana.“We know that there are a number defects and deficits, but we are so happy that the American Embassy… other countries in the ABC countries… that we have this greater construction for the rule of law. Moreover, this aspect of the training will have efforts implemented to standardise law enforcement public agencies and enhance skills and knowledge of Prosecutors, adding capacity for taking better statements and being trained, so that they can give stronger evidence in court so that the Magistrates, Judges and conviction, can ensure conviction and there is also training for Magistrates”.He said he was especially happy about the programme which will essentially strengthen procedures for Police, since there have been numerous allegations of Police taking some “rather un-coup steps in getting evidence.” “Of course an appreciation of civil rights during interrogation is very important. All of this, of course, will go to the improvement of the fight against criminals while protecting the rights of those affected by that fight in accordance with the law,” he assured. He said it has also been observed that the lack of good policing and prosecuting, affect the image of the country to the point where they hinder trade flows and investment. That is something that has to be taken care of, the Minister pointed out. “This generation of training is very important, since, following this Administration’s assumption to office; we have seen a number of these projects coming on stream.”Local Programme Manager, Evelyn Neaman, said that the organisation has worked in some 15 countries across the world, and has been addressing justice reform in some of the most violent places and have seen measurable positive results.