‘One-stop’ Hope and Justice Centre commissioned in Lusignan
As part of the government’s efforts to combat gender-based violence, a new Hope and Justice Centre was on Friday commissioned at Lusignan along the East Coast Demerara.
The centre was built through a collaborative effort between the Ministries of Legal Affairs and Human Services and falls under the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded Support for the Criminal Justice System Programme.
The facility is the first of its kind in the region and has a ‘one-stop’ operational model. This model allows victims access to a range of services including counselling, legal recourse, and medical treatment.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, delivered the feature remarks at the commissioning ceremony, where he lauded the centre as a unique element of the collective efforts to target these offences.
“When the victim comes here, depending on the allegation, you have a number of services that they will immediately receive. And most importantly, there is a facility here that will allow for that person to be accommodated for periodic intervals,” the AG said.
Over the years, the government has designed and implemented a number of strategies to combat the high rates of gender-based violence in Guyana. However, the AG bemoaned that many of these efforts have been in vain.
He highlighted that crimes of this nature have far-reaching effects, creating a vicious cycle of generational trauma, and innovative measures must be put in place to tackle this phenomenon.
As such, the legal affairs minister pointed to the Family Violence Bill, which will be presented to the national assembly shortly.
The bill will overhaul the Domestic Violence Act and is touted as a studied piece of legislation that has benefitted from extensive consultations with civil society groups and other stakeholders.
“We cannot give up because this can very well consume all of us. We therefore have to continue to battle and pursue traditional methods while we explore new opportunities and new innovations, as we continue to march in our efforts to overcome this beast that resides right across the length and breadth of our country,” he said.
According to the Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud, the centre is a timely intervention.
“It is an important thing when we can have the kind of harmonising in the services that we offer towards the common goal of reducing and eradicating gender-based violence which continues to wreak havoc globally and nationally,” she said.
The colour scheme and design of this centre will be replicated across the country so it can be easily recognised by those who use it.
“The distinctive colour of this building – orange, is one that speaks to the recognition of violence, so it has all been meticulously crafted and constructed, taking into account all of the nuances and the details that deal with gender-based violence,” the human services minister explained.
She also announced that this year, her ministry will implement a programme aimed at rehabilitating perpetrators of gender-based violence, which will align with the ongoing Restorative Justice programme.
A similar centre is slated to be built in Region Three this year. Also in attendance at the simple ceremony were Director of Public Prosecution, Shalimar Ali-Hack, Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Madame Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Chief Magistrate (ag) Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus, Director of Prisons, Nicklon Elliott, IDB Country Representative for Guyana, Lorena Solorzano Salazar, SCJS Programme Manager, Indira Anandjit, members of the diplomatic corps and other officials.