In December 2019, UNDP facilitated the first ever training of Child Probation Officers in Trinidad and Tobago. The closing session was held on Saturday 14th December 2019 and marked a week-long of intensive workshops and interactive sessions.
Four facilitators from the Court Services Division, Superior Court of Columbia, Washington D.C. were invited to train thirty-two participants including 12 newly appointed Child Probation Officers, Prison Welfare Officers, and Court Social Services.
This innovative training focused on the new role of Child Probation Officers and mapped out the responsibilities of the major stakeholders involved in the process. In addition, there were discussions and exercises geared toward evaluating existing processes and pinpointing gaps to foster the creation of more enhanced approaches to the adjudication of child matters and child probation in Trinidad and Tobago.
In her opening remarks at the session, where were presented on behalf of the UNDP Resident Representative Ms Randi Davis, the Technical Expert in Violence Prevention at the UNDP, noted:
“The UNDP is delighted to have supported this training of Trinidad and Tobago’s newly minted Child Probation Officers who are so crucial to supporting children in conflict with the law and guiding them towards successful rehabilitation and reintegration. Child Probation Officers provide an invaluable service to children, communities, and the country”.
At the closing session, groups of participants made presentations to recap the lessons learnt and observations made during the week-long training. They accompanied their presentations with skits and interactive activities. Notably, one skit portrayed a tug-of-war between the interests of various stakeholders such as the Children Court, Probation Officers and the Youth Training and Rehabilitation Centre, with the child in the middle being pulled in opposing directions. The presentations concluded that children should always be at the centre of the decision-making process in order to safeguard their wellbeing.
This initiative builds on the UNDP’s previous work with the Trinidad and Tobago Judiciary's Juvenile Court Project. It is a significant step in achieving meaningful juvenile justice reform and embracing global standards in adjudication involving children, while also guaranteeing the rights of children in accordance with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of a Child, and global best practice in restorative justice.