Students get iPads at regional youth conference: “No Witness, No Justice” C.B.S.I Youth Network Seminar

“Do the right thing.” – This message came through loud, clear and often on the first day of the No Witness, No Justice/CBSI Youth Network Conference hosted by the United States Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

One of the students in the CBSI Youth Network module practices on his iPad

Dozens of secondary schools students from ten different Caribbean countries are in Barbados for the two-day conference which promotes witness participation in the judicial system and social media advocacy for such.

Brittany Williams of Marian Academy in Guyana ‘objects’ to badgering of her witness by defense counsel Jamal Evans of the Government High School in the Bahamas.

Speaking to the students on Thursday evening, United States Ambassador Larry L. Palmer urged them to stand firm in the face of pressure to do wrong – noting this pressure can come from many different sources.

“Young people like you can face a lot of pressure to do the wrong thing or to cover up for those who are committing crimes. This pressure comes from all around you – it comes from your peers and even older people who should know better. This pressure can come wrapped up as entertainment – even I’ve heard some of the songs that refer to ‘informers’ or ‘snitches’,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador Dr. Larry Palmer (second from left) meets Princess Margaret Secondary School students Leon Weekes and Jodi Knight and their teacher Corynne Haynes (at right).

Barbados Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, whose office has partnered with the Embassy and the National Task Force on Crime Prevention on the conference, expressed similar sentiments, noting that sometimes young people are reluctant to cooperate with the police.

“If your justice system does not work, then your way of life as you know it goes to naught. Ordinary men and women, boys and girls [have to be] willing to put their hands up and do the right thing if they are witnesses to a crime. We have some additional work to do because one of the things that I note as a politician is that young people are not the greatest fans of police – there’s a slight disconnect. We need to bridge that gap,” stressed Brathwaite.

Earlier in the day, the students spent the day training in two groups, learning about the importance of participating in their own justice system and how to use social media for advocacy.

U.S. Ambassador Dr. Larry Palmer (second from left) meets Princess Margaret Secondary School students Leon Weekes and Jodi Knight and their teacher Corynne Haynes (at right).

In the CBSI Youth Network module room, students equipped with Embassy-donated iPads, practiced taking effective photos, making compelling videos and using social media to promote the cause of justice and witness participation.

U.S. Ambassador Dr. Larry Palmer addressing students at the reception for the conference.

In the No Witness, No Justice module, Embassy criminal justice advisor Daniel Suter, 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 gave students hand-on, practical advice about the justice system and the importance of witnesses. The students then donned their black robes as the legal luminaries took them through two mock trials so they could put what they had learned into practice.

(from left) Teacher Imogene Howard and students Joanne Samuel and Derisa Roberts of the Westerhall Secondary School in Grenada working on video captioning during the social media module of the conference.

Crown Counsel Joseph reminded the students of the real-world importance of what they were learning, saying it showed them how necessary a witness is, even in situations where oft-adjourned trials can test one’s patience.

Embassy criminal justice advisor Daniel Suter (at right) practicing with the students as they prepare for their mock trial.

As a witness you have to have that type of patience because the end of the road is justice,” said Joseph.

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