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THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 7 243 One of the areas for improvement that the JES team detected was in the process that the police in Guyana use to gather evidence. The primary means used to gather evidence in Guyana is to obtain warned statements (confessions) from the accused. These statements are handwritten and not recorded or transcribed. Many of the accused are not literate and are unable to confirm the contents of handwritten statements. Many police officers do not take notes of their interactions with suspects in criminal investigations. JES identified an opportunity to assist police in gathering additional evidence that was potentially capable of corroborating their current evidencegathering methods. Georgetown has been recently equipped with hundreds of high-resolution digital video cameras on its streets and roads. The police have access to the feed from these cameras. In addition, many private citizens own their own private digital recording devices and have been willing to provide the video footage that their devices have captured. In order to facilitate the use of this type of evidence, JES donated forensic video equipment to the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory; helped create two specialized Forensic Video Analysis Units within these agencies; and conducted a number of training seminars for the police, prosecutors and magistrates around the issues arising in the course of seizing, preserving and ultimately entering this evidence in court as an exhibit. While this evidence alone may not be sufficient to carry the day in a prosecution, in combination with other evidence it is powerful information that has the potential to corroborate other evidence in the case including identification and warned confessions. To date the police are making use of this technique and Guyanese prosecutors and magistrates report being involved in these types of cases. Magistrate Liverpool, who received training from JES in June and November 2015, reported that she has heard five cases involving video evidence, four of which have resulted in successful prosecutions based primarily on this evidence. One of the other challenges in Guyana is that there are significant case backlogs in the magistrate and high court. In part, this arises due to the very high volume of cases that are set for trial. Unlike in Canada, most of these cases also proceed to trial. In addition, Guyanese magistrates and high court judges are responsible for creating the record. They must take down the evidence word for word and at the conclusion of the evidence of a witness read back that evidence to the witness and have the witness confirm its authenticity. This is a time-consuming and laborious process, contributing to court delays. While JES continues to explore what can be done to assist Guyana in developing a digital recording system, case management techniques are being canvassed with the judiciary in Guyana in an effort to assist them in


March Pages 2017
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