In making good on his promise, Delroy Chuck, Minister of Justice conducted a detailed tour of five courthouses in Kingston and St. Andrew. He noted the infrastructure of each facility and assured that a well needed facelift is necessary and changes are on the way.
The tours, on August 9 and 10 to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Sutton Street Court, Half Way Tree Resident Magistrate’s Court and the Family Court, included the Justice Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Carol Palmer and Project Consultant, Mr. Vivian Gordon.
“We are delighted to have the Justice Minister, the Permanent Secretary and the team here,” said Senior Parish Judge, Justice Judith Pusey, who personally gave the tour of the Half-Way-Tree Resident Magistrate’s Court.
“The issues that confront us are many, but they are not issues that cannot be addressed. In the past and present, Minister Chuck has been of great assistance to us and I am looking forward to some of the changes that he has suggested today; that will augur well for the better administration of Justice here,” said Judge Pusey.
The tour of each courthouse, which lasted for hours, revealed the urgent need for structural changes, refurbishing and outfitting works.
“It is quite clear that significant upgrading and improvements will have to be made to these courts. Considering first, the Supreme Court; there is no doubt that we have far too many areas in the Courts that are overburdened with old files, old furniture and equipment,” pointed out Minister Chuck.
Originated in 1880, the Supreme Court has had its metamorphoses over the years. However, in recent times, Phases 1 and 2 of the Justice Square project which began in 2011 saw the refurbishing of the building at 52-54 King Street (now Public Building North) which was acquired for the expansion of the Supreme Court.
As a result of the tours, Minister Chuck noted that the Supreme Court’s, “infrastructure is still quite good but certainly needs cleaning and upgrading. But as to the other courthouses, “There is no doubt that some major work will have to be done in terms of renovation, painting, cleaning and the installation of air conditioning units.”
In tackling this mammoth task, the Justice Minister disclosed that the work will begin almost immediately at the courts visited, “...in the long term, I would like our courthouses to be a place that the citizens of this country can admire and be satisfied with.”
Minister Chuck expressed that along with fitting the courts with audio visual equipment and other technology, “We will simultaneously ‘fix-up’ the courts and lift the quality of the structure to ensure that they are befitting of a first world country.”
While funding has been a crucial subject when contemplating major work on the courts, the Justice Minister revealed that contributions will come from overseas partners; from the Consolidated Fund and a portion of the proceeds from traffic tickets.