ANGUILLA–A one-day conference was held here on Friday, June 22, to present and discuss the draft legislation for Justice Reform and Child Protection. The aim was to stimulate debate in respect of the passing of the legislation and to provide delegates with training in the aims of the legislation and its context and purposes.
Minister of Social Development Evans McNiel Rogers welcomed the overseas delegates and spoke on behalf of Chief Minister Victor Banks, who is overseas. He said it is important to ensure that all people receive a fair deal and that the legislation will protect the vulnerable. There has been much talk about the de-criminalisation of cannabis, Rogers said, but stressed that the government is only aiming to prevent too many young men having their futures blighted by being accused of possession. The reform seeks to allow possession of 10 milligrams (mg) of cannabis without being charged. Rogers said social workers would be able to protect children better with the new legislation.
Minister of Home Affairs, Cora Richardson-Hodge said there were two separate bills that would go before the House of Assembly: Justice Reform and Child Protection. She said the government recognised the need to update the justice system and amend some of the existing laws.
Justice Mathurin introduced the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Sir Dennis Byron who was the conference chairman. She gave a detailed account of his many achievements, noting that under his chairmanship the workshop would be full and productive.
Byron said that policies and laws are developed for the population as a whole but noted the importance of protecting the vulnerable. He named several acts that had been passed in Anguilla, showing that the island had been proactive in protecting the vulnerable in the past. However, he said the judiciary must respond to changes and rights must be protected. He encouraged participants to be open and to communicate and contribute to the discussions. He said the new bills would bring Anguilla into compliance with accepted international standards.
The conference sought to provide delegates with a greater understanding of protecting children and vulnerable adults and explain the use of special measures for witnesses and complainants. Discussing the family division of the High Court and a family court was also on the agenda, as well as briefly touching on the topic of mentally ill and mentally incapacitated adults in the civil and criminal justice system.