DPP says the Code for Prosecutors establishes the principles of conducting a prosecution

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs. Pauline Hendrickson speaking at the launch of the National Prosecutions Office and the Code for Prosecutors.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MARCH 26TH2012 (CUOPM) – The recently launched National Prosecution Office brings prosecutors in the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force under the direction of the Director of the Public Prosecutions(DPP).

Speaking at the event, Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs. Pauline Hendrickson noted that most of the prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court was conducted by the police.

“This included all summary matters and most preliminary inquiries in indictable matters. Police prosecutors operated a separate prosecution unit within the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force. As a result the Director could not effectively supervise the work of the police prosecutors and give them the required direction, guidance and assistance in the prosecution of cases,” said Mrs. Hendrickson.

She said that after some discussion with the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police a decision was made to establish a National Prosecution Service where all those who prosecute and all prosecutors are under the control of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The DPP said that the aim of the National Prosecution Service is to expand, strengthen, enhance and consolidate the prosecution resources in the Federation.

She said the Code for Prosecutors establishes the principles of conducting a prosecution.

“The decision whether or not to prosecute an individual is a most important one. It is vital for the suspect, vital for the victim and vital for the community as a whole. Great care must be taken by those who decide these issues, always remembering that wrong decisions may destroy lives and undermine confidence in the criminal justice system,” said the DPP, pointing out that the modern prosecutor is expected to discharge his or her duties with professionalism, skill and vision and to operate within the parameters of defined and clear prosecution policy guidelines.

Resident Judge His Lordship Mr. Justice Errol Thomas (left) and Senior Magistrate Her Worship Mrs. Josephine Mallalieu-Webbe.

“High qualities are expected of the modern prosecutor – good judgment, complete integrity, an innate sense of fair play and an instinctive sense of right and wrong. Fearlessness is also an essential quality, for prosecution decisions are often controversial and the prosecutor must have the strength of character to resist criticism from whatever quarter, no matter how strident or painful. The judgment of the prosecutor must never be overborne by political, media or public pressure. The profession of prosecutor is an honourable one but it is not for the fainthearted,” said Mrs. Hendrickson.

She is of the view that the prosecutorial discretion should be exercised in a manner that is consistent, fair and objective and that difficult decisions must be confronted, not sidestepped, and in deciding the way forward the prosecutor should apply professional judgment, legal competence and practical life experience.

“The prosecutor is independent and his or her interest throughout is the just disposal of the issues. The prosecutor secures no victories and sustains node feats. The prosecutor should be vigorous in presenting the evidence, but restrained and courteous. Without a fair prosecutor, there cannot be a fair trial,” said Mrs. Hendrickson to the officials present including Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas; Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett; Resident Judge His Lordship Mr. Justice Errol Thomas, Speaker of the National Assembly, the Hon. Curtis Martin and Senior Magistrate, Her Worship Mrs. Josephine Mallalieu-Webbe

She said that the community has a vested interest in the proper conduct of its prosecutions, and the conviction of the guilty is just as much in the public interest as is the acquittal of the innocent.

“The prosecutor is guided at all times by the public interest in the measured application of the rule of law,” said the DPP, stating:

“In deciding where exactly the public interest lies in a particular case the prosecutor must consider the justice of the situation and examine all the factors. The more serious the offence, the more likely is it that the public interest will require a prosecution to proceed. There is a need to maintain public confidence in the administration of criminal justice, and the community has a legitimate interest in the work of its prosecution service,” said Mrs. Hendrickson.

She said the purpose of the Code for Prosecutors is not only to provide a code of conduct for prosecutors and to promote consistent decision making at all stages of the prosecution process, but also to make the community aware of the way in which the system of public prosecutions operates. Transparency is essential for the modern prosecutor for a fair and effective criminal justice system.

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