RET international held a Stakeholder Consultation at the George Price Center for Peace and Development this morning. The event was organized to address the culture of corruption, trafficking in person and Gender based
violence. In attendance were various stake holders, including the Association of the Justices of the Peace and the Commissioner of the Supreme Court. Solicitor General Nigel Hawke unpacked the United Nation’s Convention Against Corruption to JP’s in attendance in order for them to understand their role in the Convention. Hawke tells us more
Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General: They play the role of executing and administrating important legal documents, and if those documents per chance are mis leading, false, or the integrity of those documents are called into question, certainly it will bring the entire country into disrepute and also their profession. So what we’re saying to them, they need to be cognizant of their role, the importance of the UNCAP of their profession, and what we’re simply saying also is that we need to rethink and retool our minds and think differently in relation to what we do. It’s not just preparing a document now. You have to know what you’re preparing; you have to maintain your integrity and make sure that when you place your stamp on a document, that you can stand by it and say I did all that I was supposed to do in accordance with the Justice of the Peace Act.
It is important to note that Corruption plays a key role in the increase of Trafficking in Persons and Gender Based violence. Malenie Barnes, RET National Program Coordinator, tells us why.
Melany Barnes, RET International Program Coordinator: Anything that denies a person the right to access of services is in fact corruption. So when someone who has been a victim of gender based violence, such as a young person who has been a victim of state violence, police brutality is denied access to services. It is gender based violence and it’s also corruption. When we focus on the victims and we penalize the victims of human trafficking and we don’t address or shine the light on the perpetrators, that’s corruption. Because most times, the perpetrators are persons with money and can move things. So we don’t shine the light or focus on them, we only focus on the victims and that is corruption. Anytime that services are denied to persons because of their vulnerability or gender, it is also corruption
Barnes further stated that through forums like these organized by RET International; JP’s become better informed of their roles in addressing gender based violence, trafficking in persons and corruption.
Melany Barnes, RET International Program Coordinator: So RET believe that the Justices of the Peace are untapped resources in our communities. They represent the Attorney General’s ministry in the community, but they don’t understand their role. So what RET is trying to do is to firstly, provide forums where they are introduced into what their true role is. And at this forum, we heard the Solicitor General talk about the importance of Justices of the Peace in supporting the unpacking and unveiling of UNCAP. And what RET want to do is also to strengthen their capacity, so we introduce them to legislations on human trafficking, legislations on human rights convention, legislations on domestic violence and Belize’s anti-corruption legislations. So they will understand and have an orientation about the legislations. They can then provide support to the community and will be able to identify and report on cases of gender based violence and trafficking in persons or corruption.