Workshop on Children as Victims and Witnesses in the Criminal Justice System
Port Louis, June 6, 2012:
In 2010 the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) approached the U.S. in order to address a number of issues regarding the treatment of child witnesses and victims in the Mauritian court system. The Office of the DPP noted that the court environment was not always child-friendly. The DPP’s Office noted that due to the absence of a policy regarding the treatment of children in court, or legislation protecting the rights of victims, 90 percent of cases involving children as witnesses or victims were, in the end, abandoned. Training on the proper treatment of children in the court system was therefore deemed necessary, thus the organization of the workshop presently taking place in Mauritius
The U.S. Government has provided three resource persons for this workshop: Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara C. Neda from the Department of Justice, and from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – Stacey Smiedala, FBI Special Agent and Stephanie Knapp, FBI Investigator. All three experts have extensive experience working with children in the court system. The workshop is targeting professionals from various sectors that deal with children before, during and after they enter in court. These are lawyers, prosecutors, police prosecutors, social workers, judges, magistrates, police officers, organizations working for the rights of children, probation officers, psychologists, NGOs, and Ministries of the Government of Mauritius.
Director of Public Prosecutions Satyajit Boolell and Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) Troy Fitrell were among those who addressed participants during the opening ceremony of this workshop this morning. CDA Fitrell underlined that there had been similar problems in dealing with children in the court system in the U.S. and that it was appropriate that the U.S. Government was thus sharing its expertise in the universal value that is child protection.
The workshop on Children as Victims and Witnesses in the Criminal Justice System will continue until Friday, June 8, 2012.