A new code has been established for public prosecutors to provide greater transparency in the legal process and promote better relationships with the press and the public.
The Code for Public Prosecutors Barbados was officially handed over to Chief Justice, Sir Marston Gibson, by United States (US) Ambassador, Larry Palmer, during an official ceremony at the Department of Public Prosecutions??? Warrens, St. Michael, office recently.
And, the media is expected to play a critical role in publishing elements contained within the code to promote greater public awareness about the island???s legal system.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Charles Leacock, explained: ???The Code is designed to ensure structured decision-making so that…there will be transparency in all the decisions we make, and the public will have the right to see what criteria we use when we make decisions to prosecute.???
He added that the press had a fundamental role to play in the process, especially in assisting the public in understanding the role and functioning of the justice system.
???The production of the Code for Public Prosecutors is merely a step along the way to provide greater transparency and to have a symbiotic relationship with the press and the public, so that we would all be on the same page,??? he stated.
The DPP noted that the Code ensures members of the media have access to relevant material wherever possible and at the appropriate time. However, he pointed out that there were times when, because of matters related to national security or due to the sensitivity of the information surrounding criminal investigations, the matters could not be discussed.
Mr. Leacock gave the assurance to media personnel present that ???you do as a probing, responsible media have the right to question decisions and seek information on the status of criminal matters???.
He stressed that ???justice was not a closed-in virtue???, and media personnel had the right to even criticise decisions made, once it was done within the bounds of decency, priority and in good faith.
During the ceremony, Sir Marston reminded prosecutors that they were ministers of justice and their ultimate goal was justice and not to win. ???So, in cases where you see for one reason or another ??? ought to be pursued in candour, you have, as a minister of justice, to concede the point,??? he stated, noting this point was clear in the new Code.
Ambassador Palmer noted that the Code established clear guidelines for charging criminals in Barbados, and would assist with speedier prosecutions and greater objectivity in the criminal justice system.??He also encouraged citizens to obtain a copy of the Code, which he described as another step in strengthening the security of citizens.
Written by the DPP???s office for its use in the criminal justice system in Barbados, the Code was produced in collaboration with the US Embassy???s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Section.