Justice Ministry targets significant reduction in turn-around times for disposing of cases

Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck responds to questions from the floor during the first in a series of sensitization sessions with community leaders, held at the Justice Ministry Complex in Kingston, Thursday, September 1. The High Commissioner for Canada, Sylvain Fabi and Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Mrs. Carol Palmer also addressed the gathering.

The investments that are being made in the justice system under a decade long transformation programme are expected to result in a reduction in the time it takes to dispose of cases in the courts. Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation noting that it was taking six to eight years for some cases to be concluded and said that the Ministry was targeting a reduction to three years. The Minister was responding to a question from one of the One Hundred and Twenty participants including the High Commissioner of Canada, Mr. Sylvan Fabi, who attended the first in a series of sensitization sessions for community leaders at the Ministry of Justice Complex in Kingston this morning (Thursday, Sept 1, 2016).

In his address to the gathering, Minister Chuck outlined the significant investments of international partners in the transformation of the justice system. “The Canadian Government has demonstrated commitment to Jamaica’s efforts with funding amounting to Twenty Million Canadian Dollars (CDN$20M) for the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) programme in addition to prior funding support”.

The Minister also told the community leaders that the European Union had been a good partner in the justice transformation programme since 2014 investing €4.1M in areas to improve administrative processes and implement Case Management System and rehabilitate select court houses. He said that the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) has earmarked Twenty Four Million Euros (€24M) to the Justice Sector through the Justice Security Accountability and Transparency (JSAT) Programme.

Minister Chuck spoke about some of the achievements of the transformation such as the construction of new court houses and the rehabilitation and renovation of others; the strengthening of institutional capacity and the improvement in the capacity of civil organizations and representatives of the legal professions to participate in the justice reform process. However, he noted that that there was an unfinished agenda in the justice system and called on the community leaders to work with the Justice Ministry to achieve gold standard for the justice system. “We want to empower, strengthen and motivate leaders in every nook and cranny of the country to go for gold in decency, improved behavior and law and order. We want to overcome those who want to do evil and to restore Jamaica to a place of pride.”

Permanent Secretary Carol Palmer, who also spoke at the event, said that the Ministry was re-shaping the narrative on justice and moving towards a rights-based approach on how the justice sector conducts business. “There is work proceeding apace on the expansion of the multi-door approach to providing justice services including expanding the use of mediation, introduction of Restorative Justice and soon to be fully implemented, the use of Child Diversion options for treating with the youth”, she said.

The High Commissioner of Canada, Mr. Sylvain Fabi, also spoke to the gathering and pledged the continued support of Canada to Jamaica’s justice reform programme.

Other presentations were made on the areas of Child Abuse, Child Diversion, Human Trafficking, Legal Aid, Mediation, Restorative Justice and Victim Services.

Among the participants were Justices of the Peace, Principals, Senior Teachers, Pastors, Members of the Laity and business persons. The Ministry of Justice is targeting 1,000 community leaders in the sessions that will continue throughout the month of September. The objective of the sessions is to expose the leaders to several key areas of the justice system from which the citizens of Jamaica can benefit.