Guyana continues to see a worrying increase in cases of domestic violence. Over the past year, over 25 women were murdered by their partners in domestic disputes, hundreds more have found themselves before the courts giving evidence after falling victims to domestic violence.
The Local Judiciary is now paying closer attention to the issue and looking at ways it could play a role to stem the increase of incidents using the court system. A two-day workshop on Domestic Violence for magistrates and front line court service providers opened in Georgetown on Friday. The workshop was organised by The Supreme Court of Guyana and United Nations Women
The workshop intends to develop standard practice among court personnel countrywide in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, equip ‘front-line’ court service-providers with information to ensure a more comprehensive response in addressing the needs of domestic violence complainants, strengthen the capacity of the Magistracy to respond in a timely, transparent and effective manner in domestic violence matters and help Clerks of Court and Social Workers prioritize cases that require urgent intervention to ensure more systemic support for victims who come to court.
Local law enforcement and the Courts have come under criticism in the past from women rights groups for the way they handle reports and cases of domestic violence.
At the opening of the forum, Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, said “this workshop is an effort to develop standard practices among court personnel and other service providers countrywide from the filing to the hearing of domestic violence matters.”
Justice Sing added that “with Domestic Violence on the increase in our Dear land of Guyana it is imperative that we all, being links in the chain of services, must be provided to complainants, must able to respond not only quickly, but appropriately to enable proper, timely and competent judicial intervention.”
The facilitators of the workshop include Justice R. George, Chief Magistrate Priya Beharry, Chief Magistrate, Ann Green of the Child Care & Protection Agency and Karen De Souza of the Red Thread organisation.
The workshop is the second hosted on issues relating to Domestic Violence and the Judiciary in Guyana with support from UN Women.
(Filed 18th May, 2013)