Guyana to get Judicial Gender Equality Protocol Guideline – CCJ President
Tackling gender-based discrimination
Goal number five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) speaks to the achievement of gender equality and empowering women and girls and in light of this, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has developed a robust gender programme, which is expected to be implemented in the judicial systems throughout the Caribbean.
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but also a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world and, according to CCJ President, Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron, the first part of the new gender equality protocol would be implemented in five Caricom countries. The new guideline comes as part of the Jurors’ Project and would see judicial officers being trained in gender sensitisation, equality, and accountability.
“The protocols are designed to assist Magistrates and Judges to adjudicate without gender bias. Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago have been selected for the first part. The protocols for Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago have already been handed over to them and their respective Chief Justices,” he said.
“The gender sensitisation training aspect of the Project has been designed for judicial officers and court personnel to foster an enabling environment for the protocols to take root. The training modules place specific emphasis on addressing judicial bias; preconception and the negative impact of stereotypes; addressing specific challenges deriving from multiple and intersectional discrimination; the role of international and regional human rights institutions in examining domestic legislation on gender-based violence, custody maintenance, human trafficking and the ways they can be applied to promote gender equality,” the CCJ President informed.
He said that the programme would allow them to monitor and assess the implementation of the protocols. He noted that continued monitoring and performance assessment were crucial in instilling confidence concerning the systems.
The CCJ Head said that several rounds of gender sensitisation training have already commenced at the institution, adding that they have developed model sexual offences guidelines, which embody internationally-accepted best practices for the management of sexual offence cases and offer a rights-based approach for complainants and vulnerable witnesses.
“The guidelines which will be formally launched later this month (September) at the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers conference in Curaçao will be distributed throughout the Caribbean. This also carries a training component and will see the piloting of a model Sexual Offences Court. There will be extensive critical education drives, which will focus on topics such as consent, given the disparity between what people deem as consent and what the law regards as such,” the CCJ President said.
The PANCAP Justice For All Initiative focuses on creating a facilitating environment to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination within the Caribbean and has led to the development of a comprehensive plan to address that.
Sir Charles is set to leave office in 2018, having attained his seventh year of stewardship at the CCJ. The process of seeking his replacement has already commenced with the post being advertised extensively.
In 2011, he was sworn in as the second President of the CCJ in St Kitts. His predecessor was the Right Honourable Justice Michael de la Bastide TC, a Trinidadian.
He was appointed by the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) on the recommendation of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC).