U.S. Embassy Belmopan facilitated a three-day workshop on Advanced Prosecutors Training for members of the Belize Police Department, specifically the National Prosecution Branch personnel. The sessions, funded by the Department of State's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) Bureau, provided comprehensive training on investigating and prosecuting criminal cases, including trial preparation, research methods, advocacy, and the examination of evidence, witnesses, and experts.
The workshop was attended by senior Government of Belize officials including Chief Magistrate Sharon Fraser, Senior Crown Counsel in the Attorney General's Ministry Stacy Martinez, and Head of the National Prosecution Branch Alifa Elrington. The sessions were facilitated by INL Prosecution Advisor Oladele Osinuga, British barrister Jerry Sodipe, and Belizean attorney Darrell Bradley.
Mary Walz, the U.S. Embassy's INL Coordinator underscored the broader framework of this latest U.S. government-sponsored initiative, "Maintaining a fair and autonomous judiciary requires strengthening the capacity of prosecutors through professional development in core legal skills. This training for prosecutors demonstrates the U.S. government's ongoing commitment to improving Belize's justice sector."
In her opening remarks, Ms. Elrington noted, "There was genuine appreciation that police prosecutors need to ensure that they possess the requisite skills and knowledge as well as keep up to date with latest developments in legal practice and procedure to make them better and effective in their role as ministers in the temple of justice and to ensure that there was no erosion of the public's trust and confidence in the administration of justice."
Since January 2019, the U.S. government has provided more than 40 instructional courses to the Belize justice sector through the Comprehensive Justice Sector Capacity Building Program. This $1.7M USD program focuses on improving the capacity of police prosecutors, implementing a Court Case Management system, and supporting the National Forensic Science Service's efforts to acquire international accreditation.
Photo by Benedict Kim