Justice Minister Urges Church, ‘Be the Conscience of Society’

​The Honourable Delroy Chuck, Minister of Justice, urges every Jamaican to see the national security challenges as a personal affront to his or her civil liberties. He was speaking on the topic Religious Liberty and Social Justice during the afternoon segment of the Spiritual Intervention Programme of the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on September 17, 2016, at the Church’s Convention Centre in Montego Bay.

 

The Church is urged to be the conscience of Jamaica, says the Justice Minister, the Hon. Delroy Chuck who was speaking recently from the platform of the largest denominational group in Jamaica, the Seventh-day Adventists.

“You must continue to be the place where people can look to find hope and peace, compassion and caring. You must be the conscience of the society demanding better of us- encouraging and inspiring and always, always correcting us in a firm but gentle voice,” said Minister Chuck.

The event was a three-day Spiritual Intervention Programme, September 16-18, 2016 at the West Jamaica Conference Centre in Montego Bay, where prayer was offered for the nation but more specifically for St. James, which is suffering from an upheaval of crime and violence. The programme included, counselling services for victims of crime from various communities.

The Minister spoke on the theme, Religious Liberty and Social Justice, where the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Carol Palmer was present and he further informed the church leaders and members; leaders of the Peace Management Initiative; representatives from the Jamaica Defence and Constabulary Forces that, “Every Jamaican must see the national security challenges as a personal affront to his or her civil liberties. That is why a concerted effort is needed from within and without the state to respond. The church must turn its face hard against the men and women of violence in our midst.”

Minister Chuck spoke to the commitment of the Jamaican Government to uphold Religious Liberty and recognizes the importance of religious freedom and is a signatory to the principal UN Human Rights Instruments and all major Human Rights Treaties that comprise the international framework for Human Rights. “Our own Constitution enshrines certain fundamental rights and these are supported by subsidiary legislation. We understand the correlation between religious liberty, social justice and the achievement of a broader range of freedoms for all our citizens.”

 He told that such freedom and rights place more responsibility on each person in this nation that should lead us to respect others who want to enjoy their basic fundamental rights and freedom, “Make sure you do not interfere with or disrupt others who are trying to enjoy the same freedom that you are enjoying. Because far too many people believe that because they are enjoying their freedom, everybody must tolerate what they are doing.”

It is to this end that the Justice Minister informed the congregation that justice is fundamental to protecting such freedoms. “Justice isn’t about getting only what you want, that is one sided. Often times when a case is decided and the winner said, ‘justice has been done and the loser says ‘injustice has been done’. It can’t be one sided! Justice has to be balanced. Justice has to be fair; justice has to be about hearing both sides of the story and ensuring that the right decision takes place. Justice is about closure to wrong doing. Closure to any problem that one might be engaged in and when you bring closure and there is a fair outcome. Then that is justice.”

Not ignoring the realities of the nation’s harsh economic climate and the effects of crime and violence Minister Chuck reiterated that the Ministry is training its Justices of the Peace, pastors, teachers and upstanding community persons in mediation and restorative justice; “so that when they have these skills they can anticipate and deal with disputes, conflicts and quarrels before they actually end up in physical violence.”

He concluded, “I thank you for your continued interest in justice and ask that you mobilise your boots on the ground to take Jamaica to a better place of peace and love.”

By: Dyhann Buddoo-Fletcher