The effective use of plea agreements to ensure justice is administered through a fair, transparent, and efficient process, while balancing victims’ rights and citizens’ interests, was the focus of a week-long training session opened on October 18 by U.S. Embassy Port of Spain in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain.
Funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Caribbean Anti-Crime Program and implemented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), the training aimed to increase the usage of plea agreements to resolve cases, which will reduce case backlogs, promote timely disposition of cases, and improve the overall administration of justice. Prosecutors from New York and Illinois led the training with support from other experts, including Paula Llewellyn, Jamaica’s Director of Public Prosecutions.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Shante Moore said, “Through expanded use of plea-bargaining provisions, Trinidad and Tobago can make positive strides towards reducing its remand population, decreasing the backlog of pending criminal cases, and improving the administration of justice.
“The United States is proud to partner with the Office of the Attorney General and the NCSC to provide this training and many other crucial capacity building and technical assistance programs to support criminal justice reform and justice sector strengthening efforts in Trinidad and Tobago. The United States continues to demonstrate that we are Trinidad and Tobago’s most responsive and reliable foreign partner, and our bilateral relationship bears dividends for Trinbagonian citizens.”
This training is the second part of a program launched in January 2022 with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. In April, NCSC trained members of the Public Defenders’ Department.