Regional Youth Conference a Huge Success

ZIZ News…Dec 14, 2012 — Enlightened, engaged and energized. This was the prevailing mood as participants in the No Witness, No Justice/CBSI Youth Network Conference hosted by the U.S. Embassy returned home to their respective countries last weekend.

During this two-day conference, dozens of secondary school students from ten different Caribbean countries spent two days in Barbados learning about how crucial witnesses are to the justice system and training in social media advocacy so as to encourage youths to be courageous and effective witnesses.

Chart-topping Barbadian band Cover Drive stopped by the conference to show their support and took photos with the students.

Embassy Deputy Public Affairs Officer Rachael Zaspel, who led the social media training module, highlighted the enthusiasm and inventiveness of the students she trained:

“I’ve been really impressed by how innovative the students were in coming up with ideas for their social media advocacy. They really were engaged and I’m confident that they are going to be great ambassadors for this message about supporting and participating in their justice systems.”

Meanwhile, Embassy criminal justice advisor Daniel Suter who led the No Witness No Justice training which taught the students about their justice systems, was equally enthusiastic.

“The students have done fantastically well. [They have] really taken it on board in terms of appreciating the importance of a witness and the effectiveness of witnesses actually standing up and doing the right thing.”

Participants in the No Witness, No Justice/CBSI Youth Network Conference outfitted in their No Witness, No Justice t-shirts for the final event of the conference.

Several students mentioned how they appreciated the opportunity to learn about the justice system in a really hands-on manner, with aspiring young lawyer Khephra Lorde of the Castries Comprehensive School in St. Lucia disclosing: “I want to go into the field of law so this was a great opportunity.”

In the spirit of the social media aspect of the conference, several students were already making plans as to how they would share their knowledge with their fellow students when they returned home.

Joanne Samuel of the Westerhall Secondary School in Grenada said, “”I learned that it is good to be a witness [and] if you see a crime, you should speak out. I plan to go back and teach the students of my school what I have learned and to establish a program in my school.”

The No Witness, No Justice/CBSI Youth Network Conference was held in partnership with the office of the Attorney General in Barbados and Barbados’ National Task Force on Crime Prevention. The training was executed with the assistance of St. Vincent and the Grenadine’s Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Colin John and Crown Counsels Giovanni James of St. Lucia and Clement Joseph of Dominica.

The conference was the first training of non-law enforcement personnel that has been done under President Obama’s Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and continues the United States’ efforts to help build safer communities across the Caribbean.

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