DPP Calls for Video Link in Criminal Cases


Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, is calling on the authorities to adopt video link technology as a primary means of improving the witness protection programme and making witnesses more available for criminal matters.
“I would love to see video link being introduced through legislation into the methodologies and practices that we can adopt in the criminal law to deal with the question of making witnesses available for trial,” the Director said at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank.’
According to the DPP, the video link technology is being used in civil cases. “[With] the fairly new civil procedure rules which were enacted over the last few years, video link is available in the civil arena,” she pointed out.
She noted however, that it was proving to be an “uphill climb to introduce video link in the criminal arena.”
“I would endorse any amendment to the law that would enable us [to introduce video technology] and of course we understand that there would be safeguards. It is used in Canada, England and several other jurisdictions and I don’t believe it would be hard at all,” she argued.
Stressing the need for security measures, the DPP said that, “it would be an easy and simple thing to put the particular safeguards in place to ensure that the fairness to the accused person who is being tried, is secured.” She added that more importantly, it would be one of the factors that the administration of justice could use to convince witnesses.
She indicated that these measures would attract more witnesses, since they would be prevented from “walking on the road or through the precincts of the court into the court room and be in the physical presence of the accused.”
According to Miss Llewellyn, the video link technology would operate in such a way that witnesses could give evidence and be cross examined in the presence of the court.
“Your face or your body would be beamed from an undisclosed location through technology into the courtroom and the evidence is marshalled from you, cross examination is done and the jurors and the entire courtroom would be able to see your body language, but most importantly the witnesses would have made themselves available,” she explained.
Turning her attention to human rights, the DPP said: “I am all for human rights but what is important when one talks of the justice system, is that human rights must be looked at in the context of the rights of potential offenders or accused persons and also the rights of victims of crime, because any citizen of this country has a right to live.”
She also pointed out that in honouring human rights, innocent persons must be freed and guilty individuals charged, which could only happen with the availability of witnesses.
“It’s a human’s right to be able to walk about freely and enjoy the opportunities that your country has to offer and in the final analysis, justice to my mind, means that an innocent person must be acquitted but I believe that justice equally means that a guilty person should be convicted,” Miss Llewellyn asserted.
“The pendulum of justice should swing both ways, which would ensure the enhancement of credibility and the belief of the citizens of this country in the rule of law,” she added.
The objectives of the DPP’s office include presenting criminal cases before the court in a timely and efficient manner; and providing the citizens of Jamaica with professional prosecution service that is fair and just to both the victim and the accused.

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