After recently drafting a sexual Harassment Bill for CARICOM countries, Impact Justice has taken the opportunity to provide a Mediation training session to people who often work with community groups.
The session which is being held at the Coyaba Beach Resort Conference room started on Monday and will run until Friday.
In attendance are social workers, probation officers, police officers and other socially inclined individuals.
IMPACT Justice Project, which means improved Access to Justice in the CARICOM region, is a project funded by the government of Canada.
The aim of the project is to draft policy papers and model legislation for the social and economic development of the region.
As a result of this, a modern Sexual Harassment Bill has been drafted and under this Bill, it is the hope that sexual harassment issues will mostly be handled through mediation.
The mediation training is being held across the region and so far 240 persons have been trained in Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The training is being done in collaboration with Riverdale Mediation from Toronto, Canada.
In addressing participants at Monday’s opening session, Regional Director of IMPACT Justice Project, Professor Velma Newton of the University of the West Indies said she believes that this will go a long way in solving disputes at the community level.
“The idea is that you will use your training to assist in solving disputes at the community level, or in your jobs so that they do not escalate and end up in the law courts which are already cluttered with unheard or part-hear cases. Mediation is not only faster, but is cheaper than use of the law courts and the outcome of a successful mediation is an agreement reached by the parties themselves, with the mediator facilitating but not dictating to the parties what they should agree to,” she explained.
According to Professor Newton, the project will be promoting a Model Mediation Bill so as to allow governments in the region to look more towards community mediation.
She also said that the bill contains provisions for governments “to establish a division in an existing Ministry to administer a community mediation programme, set standards and register both mediators and training programmes and set fees that mediators may charge”.
Another Alternative Dispute Resolution training which IMPACT Justice is using, Newton said, is Restorative Practices that is being offered to educators.
“Restorative Practices have been used effectively in schools in Canada and elsewhere to deal with conflict and, like mediation, one of the main principles is that it is not necessary to resort to violence or other hurtful behaviour to solve conflict,” she remarked.
To date, this practice have been undertaken in Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Kitts and Nevis while the project is awaiting a response from Ministry of Education in Grenada.
At the end of the mediation training session, participants will be given certificates and follow ups will be done to see how they are implementing what they learn in the session.