Justice System must enter new era of accountability

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck is vowing to take the justice system into a new era of accountability arguing that lack of resources should not be used as an excuse for poor performance in the system. He fired back at critics who disagreed with his call for improved turnaround times in disposing of cases and writing judgments. The Minister was speaking at a sensitization session for corporate area communities at Justice Complex on Saturday October 29.

“I know my jurisdiction. I know my limits, but we will have to set timelines. It is unacceptable that even simple matters that do not need adjudication such as Divorce and Probate are being held up because the files are sitting on somebody’s desk. People want to get on with their lives and there is no good reason for these matters to be unresolved after several months or years,” the Minister declared.

 The Minister gave the one hundred attendees several reasons why the justice system must be improved including preventing anarchy, improving trust and confidence between the government and the governed as well as contributing to economic growth. “A well functioning justice system is the most effective deterrent to crime and violence and this is important because you do not want people to resort to jungle justice but rather we want them to rely on the justice system even though there are shortcomings in the system”

Minister Chuck admitted that the government had an indispensable responsibility to provide the enabling environment for a robust, effective and efficient system and outlined many of the improvements that have been made under the justice transformation programme, namely; the establishment of the Special Coroner to speed up the investigation of cases of deaths involving agents of the State; the increase in the civil jurisdiction of Parish Courts from $250,000 to one million dollars which enables more citizens to enforce their legal claims closer to their home community, the establishment of a Western Civil Registry for the Supreme Court in St. James and the rehabilitation of Public Building North (former NCB building Downtown Kingston) to provide seven court rooms, nine judges’ chambers, four Maters’ Chambers, six hearing rooms and three Registries.  “That is a first world facility that we have at the Supreme Court, he said.

The Justice Ministry is holding sensitization sessions for leaders drawn from communities across Jamaica to encourage them to become active in the justice system as it moves toward a multi-door approach to justice. The sessions started in September and since then close to 2,000 community leaders have been sensitized