Remarks by Hon.Volda Lawrence, M.P., Minister of Social Protection – Launch of IMPACT Justice Workshop
Ministry of Social Protection, Guyana, Monday, October 10, 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure to extend a warm welcome to the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project Team on behalf of the Government of Guyana. The Government of Guyana acknowledges the outstanding work that IMPACT Justice has already accomplished through its activities in some of our sister CARICOM nations in an effort to achieve its ultimate goal of enhancing access to justice and drafting model legislation to address deficiencies in the areas of justice outside of those directly related to the judiciary and the courts in relevant areas such as Arbitration, Mediation, Businesses among others.The Government of Guyana lauds the Government of Canada for funding this project and wishes to express its sincere appreciation for this widespread initiative which will result in an enhanced gender-responsive framework, and upgrade of skills for the legal profession in CARICOM Member States, improved capacity of alternative dispute resolution, restorative justice and community-based peace building services for settling disputes, and increased access to these services by women, men, youth and businesses in Member States.
The Government of Guyana recognizes the importance of the Project within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda. The government is happy that IMPACT Justice is in Guyana so that our practitioners can benefit from this intervention which will allow them to embrace the SDGs and impact effectively on our stakeholders. This initiative will empower our respective nations at the national and regional levels towards efforts of ensuring sustainable development.
I am also delighted in my capacity as Minister of Social Protection to express the Ministry’s pleasure at being among the first recipients of this two-fold training program under the auspices of IMPACT Justice Project. I have read of the dynamic role that IMPACT Justice has played in the mediation training in Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica and other Member States and our practitioners are eager to be a part of this work in progress so that they can better interface at the community and grass-root levels in resolving family and community-related conflicts. It is a fact that on a daily basis, our probation officers and social workers are faced with a multiplicity of issues for which they are not adequately equipped as they traverse the various regions in Guyana. It is also true that our workforce is overwhelmed at times because of geographical factors and the paucity of well-informed Resource personnel to address issues in a prompt and effective manner.
The Ministry of Social Protection is mandated with the important task of supporting and strengthening family relationships and building better communities. This is the reason why these workshops are so opportune, for our Ministry practitioners will receive training in the use and implementation of mediation services within the community. The knowledge of this skill set will facilitate alternative dispute resolution, thus engaging parties and effecting positive changes in the community and society in general. It is anticipated that this training will reduce the onus and the clutter of cases in the courts, engender better interpersonal relationships and promote responsible conflict resolution.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate, on behalf of the Government and the Ministry of Social Protection, our heartfelt appreciation for the hosting of the Community Mediation Training Sessions in Guyana and do look forward to the follow-up sessions with IMPACT Justice which will provide training in other essential sectors so that collectively our practitioners can provide assistance for the establishment of Alternative Dispute Resolution service points and associations that will boost the settling of disputes.