PACE Justice to Support Caribbean Countries in Reducing Case Backlog
October 23, 2023
Countries across the Caribbean will be receiving much-needed support in their efforts towards reducing the high number of criminal case backlogs. The Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have come together to partner on the PACE Justice Programme, which seeks to significantly improve justice reform in the region. The EU has made available a grant amounting to EUR$10.39.75 million towards the Programme.
The project, launched on 17 October 2023 at Hilton Barbados Resort, reflects the culmination of consultations, dialogues and information-sharing among UNDP, the EU and a wide range of national and regional stakeholders responsible for the administration of justice. PACE Justice aims to reduce current and prevent future backlogs of criminal justice cases in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago with integrated software, hardware, training and capacity development, procedural reforms and community awareness interventions to address the causes of the backlog.
Commending the cross-sectional approaches of the project, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Dame Janice M. Pereira, remarked, “The PACE Justice project offers our region strategic and effective solutions to the outdated and laggard procedures and resources which perpetuate injustice, insecurity, and inequality within our justice systems. The project now provides our region with a more holistic framework for modernising our justice systems and an opportunity to enhance our efforts by expanding our technological resource capabilities, strengthening our capacity to gather, maintain and analyse data, and improving our performance standards.”
Flagging the enhancement of the criminal justice sector as a top priority within the region, Attorney General of Barbados, The Honourable Dale Marshall noted, “The eight [beneficiary] countries are very different in culture and experience, but we do have a common problem with backlog in our courts and there is a burning need for criminal justice reform. I wish to commend the PACE Justice project for the breadth of its coverage, working with each stakeholder in the sector to provide either technological capacity, human resource development, legislative drafting, procedural matters, and the use of better data on which sound policy can be made.”
Through PACE Justice, which will end in March 2027, beneficiary countries will be better able to reach their targets in backlog reduction and strengthening their criminal justice sector, resulting in improved access to justice, public confidence in the judicial system, a decline in human rights violations, and increased adherence to the rule of law.
Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Fenny Steenks, highlighted the importance of justice reform at this crucial juncture, noting, “PACE Justice intends to assist in pursuing planned and ongoing judicial reforms. The programme is designed to be demand-driven, with each nation’s unique needs thoroughly assessed, and solutions tailor-based on input from relevant national stakeholders.”
Confirming UNDP’s commitment, the Resident Representative for UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Limya Eltayeb, recounted the testimony of a man who was "lost in jail” for nearly eight years due to a clerical error. She stated “The UNDP 2019/2020 Needs Assessment Report states that, across the region, those on remand account for more than 20% of all prisoners, with the rate exceeding 50% in some instances. The PACE Justice Programme is a collaborative effort to ensure that every individual has fair and equal access to the legal system. It is about improving the system so that it is not just efficient but is perceived as fair and just by everyone."
PACE Justice is aligned to the core priority of justice sector improvement embedded in the CARICOM Strategic Plan and reflects the objectives of the UNDP Strategic Plan (2022-2026) which aims to expand access to justice through enablers, including strategic innovation and digitalization. The Programme will create synergies with the Europe Latin America Programme of Assistance against Transnational Organised Crime (EL PAcCTO), an international cooperation programme funded by the European Union that seeks to contribute to security and justice and which will soon expand its scope of work to the Caribbean region.
It is vital that developmental efforts continue to reinforce the need for regional resilience, building forward better and bolstering livelihoods for traditionally vulnerable groups. UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region. This intervention is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the "Blue Economy for Green Islands" vision to ensure no one is left behind.
For further information, contact Denyce Blackman - firstname.lastname@example.org or Wayne Lewis - email@example.com or visit: https://www.undp.org/barbados/projects/pace-justice-1
About PACE Justice
The Partnership of the Caribbean and the European Union on Justice (PACE Justice) Regional Programme is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from the European Union. The PACE Justice Programme will improve efficiency of criminal justice administration in the Caribbean by enhancing the institutional capacities of prosecutors, courts, police, and prisons.
UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at bb.undp.org or follow at @UNDPBarbadosEC.
About the EU
The European Union is the political and economic union of 27 member states sharing freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law as common principles and values. The EU seeks to promote peace and stability, human rights and sustainable development, and support resilient democracies around the world. Learn more at https://www.eeas.europa.eu/delegations/barbados_en