Mrs. Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice said that the continued implementation of justice reform recommendations will cost $7B to the fiscal year 2019/2020 when the significant programmes of reform are expected to be concluded. She was speaking this morning (Nov 15, 2016) at a contract signing and the Ministry’s first quarterly press briefing, which took place at the Ministry’s Constant Spring Road Office.
The Permanent Secretary outlined the forward agenda for justice reform, noting that most of the recommendations from the Jamaican Justice System Reform Project and the Jamaican Justice Reform Policy Agenda Framework had been implemented. “The on-going activities to implement the remaining recommendations and the Government’s justice sector priorities have been incorporated into the Justice Reform Implementation Plan”, Mrs. Palmer said.
She outlined a time-frame for many of the significant recommendations to be completed. “The Ministry will complete the automated jury management system and fully implement audio visual installation in courts for this fiscal year. The backlog reduction strategy will also be implemented in all courts that are burdened. The framework for a multi-door justice system will be completed this fiscal year to allow for more cases to be referred to mediation and restorative justice practices”, she said.
Mrs. Palmer told the media that a great deal of work had been done to enhance accountability, improve judicial governance and enhance client relations in the justice sector. “The judiciary had developed Codes of Conduct with the support of the Government of Canada. Work is also being undertaken on a research paper on judicial accountability which is a key component of the reform”.
The six Strategic Objectives of the forward agenda for justice reform include Fair and Timely Resolution of Cases; Improving Access to Justice, Strengthening the Judiciary and Workforce; Strengthening Linkages between Justice Sector Institutions; Establishing a Sound Court Infrastructure and Strengthening Public Trust and Confidence.
Mrs. Palmer gave the assurance that while the programme of reform would be significantly completed by 2020, Jamaicans should begin to see major results in terms of turn-around times, access to justice for marginalised groups such as the poor and mentally ill, fewer children facing formal prosecution in the Criminal Justice System and more cases being tried in the expanded Courts of Petty Sessions.
One aspect of the justice reform efforts includes improvement of the justice facilities. In recognition of this, two major contracts were signed this morning at the Ministry, with a total valueof more than $43M. These contracts relate to worksgeared at enhancing the security of judges at the Supreme Court and the procurement ofa high density filing system for the Ministry.
As we forge ahead with the justice reform agenda, the Ministry will lead the charge in continuing to conclude arrangements and implement measures to improve our justice system.
November 16, 2016