August 25, 2022
KINGSTON, Jamaica- The Ministry of Justice (MOJ), on Thursday, August 4, showcased two newly constructed, state of the art witness rooms, at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
The construction of the witness rooms is one of several activities funded under the Memorandum of Understanding between the MOJ and the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) of the British High Commission. Under the agreement, the FCDO’s Serious Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Programme and the Ministry will treat with reforms at both the Parish Courts and the ODPP.
Speaking at the tour of the witness rooms, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn outlined the requirements of integrity that the new rooms now offer to the ODPP in meeting the requirements of integrity within the justice system.
“Along with the Ministry of Justice, if we can offer places outside of the courtroom, that would satisfy the requirements of the Court to be sterile, that is to have sterile environments, it will enhance the administration of justice,” she said.
The DPP also acknowledged the growing importance of technology, referencing the hybrid operating system currently activated in the Courts, as a result of the pandemic.
"As a result of the pandemic, what is here to stay is greater use of technology. We are offering situations island-wide, where the prosecutor and the defense counsel can go via Zoom to the courtroom. These witness rooms will also be used by the Crown Counsel to Zoom to different courtrooms," said the DPP.
The witness rooms are expected to be in operation by September 2022. They are equipped with video conferencing technology, a document camera along with acoustic panels installed on the walls to limit audio escaping to ensure confidentiality.
Prior to the major renovations currently being undertaken at the ODPP, the original space did not have a location for the witness rooms. The witness rooms, therefore, will provide a safe and secure location for prosecutors to interview vulnerable witnesses in the provision of testimony to prepare for court appearances.
Current renovations at the ODPP form part of the Justice Ministry’s efforts toward the modernization of the Justice System which started in 2007 under the Jamaica Justice System Reform Project (JJSR). The JJSR Project was established by the Government of Jamaica to undertake a comprehensive review of the justice system and to develop strategies and mechanisms to facilitate its modernization.