New DPP Eveline Baptiste
New DPP Eveline Baptiste

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Evelina Baptiste says despite a few hiccups her office is ready to proceed with the January Criminal Assizes scheduled to begin next week at the High Court in Roseau.

More than 30 matters are down to be heard.

"Indictments have been drafted and depositions are being prepared. Most of the matters that we have are unfortunately under the Sexually Offences Act, incest, bestiality and unlawful sexually intercourse and unlawful sexually connection," she said. "We have cases of grievous bodily harm and also two cases of causing death by dangerous driving. Also it must be noted that a number of the matters were traversed from the September assizes."

Baptiste, a former Chief Magistrate, was appointed DPP late last year after the retirement of Gene Pestaina in July 2013.

"We also have a matter where judicial review has been filed, so we may not be able to deal with it until that issue is settled. We also have some concerns as it relates to the depositions and is of the view that there must be more increased collaboration between prosecution and investigation. Good prosecution depends on the evidence and good evidence depends on the investigations. I am not for one moment saying that some of the investigators are not good or otherwise. What is presently required is more training because you always have attrition and succession and more and new people coming on," the DPP stated.

She added that crimes are also being committed in new and ingenious ways and if training is not provided for the investigators on an ongoing basis you are going to have issues.

"Once you have those issues and the investigations are lowered, you are going to have issues and once you have issues, you are going to have problems with prosecution," she said.

Baptiste said she is also very concerned about what she describes as "the state" of the law.

"Some of the laws are old English laws which never contemplated the modern day crimes which are being committed but we will do our outmost from the prosecution's stand point because we are a dedicated staff," she said.

The work of the DPP, she stated, is one of taking of "hard decisions" that can sometimes be unpopular with some people.