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Director of Public Prosecutions visits San Ignacio Town Print E-mail
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Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00

pcc meeting.jpg - 58.43 KbBelize’s longest serving Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs. Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, met with members of the Peoples Coalition of Cayo (PCC) on Wednesday night of last week to interact with members of the Community and to set the pace for future work.

The PCC itself is an organization that has been working with the Police to further reduce the rates of crime in the Cayo Area. The idea of a Peoples Coalition first came from the Prime Minister of Belize, the Hon. Dean Barrow.

Mrs. Chery-Lynn Vidal was born in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and graduated as an Attorney in 1998. Vidal came to work in Belize in the year 2000 and during those 13 years has spent them mostly at the Office of the DPP. Her work in Belize started as a Crown Counsel at the DPP’s Office, then as Crown Counsel at the Attorney General’s Ministry. Mrs. Chery-Lynn Vidal also served as an acting Registrar of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal and as a Registrar General; after which she returned to the DPP’s Office. When Vidal returned to the DPP Office in 2004, she did so as Senior Crown Counsel and was promoted to Deputy Director in 2007, acting Director in 2008 and confirmed as Director in 2010.

In her interaction with the PCC last week, Mrs. Chery-Lynn Vidal shared much information about her office and also gave the audience an opportunity for them to ask questions. According to Vidal, the DPP now has ten Counsels and along with the Director makes the most officers it ever had in its history. This has allowed the possibility for Prosecutors now to be responsible for certain Districts and to focus in certain types of cases and get more proficient on them.

There is now a distinction between the Junior Counsel and the Senior Counsel at the DPP’s Office also says Vidal. Over the years there has been an increase in budget to the DPP’s Office and this has also given an opportunity for staff members to be trained.

Next year the DPP’s Office will be adopting a community prosecution model, to explain to the Community what is being done at the DPP’s Office. There are also plans to open an office in Belmopan to facilitate its work and have more contact with the Community.

But while the DPP’s Office is about to launch a community outreach strategy there are certain standards that must be upheld when dealing with the media. According to the DPP, there is a general prohibition on her office speaking about cases that are before the Court and in fact it is contempt of Court to be discussing the facts and cases and suggesting the likely outcome of a case. There is a responsibility by the DPP to ensure that a trial in Court is not first determined by a trial in the media or a trial in the public. Additionally, for the DPP holding press conferences, it is unheard of in the Commonwealth Caribbean, claims Mrs. Chery-Lynn Vidal.

The Guardian took the opportunity to ask the DPP about her recommendations regarding Deoxyribonucleic Acid DNA (a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms) profiling; a technique now being increasingly utilized by forensic scientists to assist in the identification of individuals by their respective DNA.
According to Mrs. Chery-Lynn Vidal, DNA testing is not presently available at the local laboratory but on a selective basis, certain samples are approved by the Government to be sent to Caribbean Genetics Laboratory in Jamaica.

“I would like to see that it goes simply from the scene to our lab and is processed there…we have people [in Belize] but we don’t have the equipment to do it. I understand that the cost is prohibitive, but I think that if we are serious about crime, about investigation, about prosecution about our criminal justice system then we have to use the money to facilitate the betterment of the entire system,” said Mrs. Cheryl-Lynn Vidal.

However; the Director of Public Prosecutions said that finger print identification techniques in Belize are much improved and that new and better finger print lifting methods have recently been learnt in the Country.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 15:29