The training workshop, the first of its kind conducted in the OECS, took place from April 3 – 7 in Antigua and Barbuda, where the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) is conducting a pilot project to establish its first family-law division in the region.
The workshop, which was jointly funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under its Juvenile Justice Reform Project and by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was executed through the collaborative effort of the OECS Commission and the ESCS.
The training supports several provisions in the OECS model family law bills, particularly the Juvenile Justice, Maintenance and Access to Children, and Children (Care and Adoption) Acts, most of which are expected to be in force in all member states and territories by year end.
Participants benefited from practical demonstrations and presentations on key issues, including property distribution, conflict within families, and the impact of divorce on children.
The workshop is one of several family law reform initiatives on which UNICEF and USAID have collaborated in the OECS region. Other key areas include: review and development of legislation and rules of court; diversion, alternative sentencing, advocacy and public awareness; and social sector institutional support.
After completing the training, participants are expected to be certified and available to serve the courts in a range of family mediation capacities.