CSOs mobilized to help improve access to justice services by the Deaf and Children

Children’s First and the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD) are now partners with the Ministry of Justice in a national mission to strengthen access to justice services by the deaf and children in contact with and conflict with the law.

The two civil society organizations (CSO) were officially recognized and welcomed during a CSO Engagement Launch event at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday 20 February. They are the first CSOs mobilized as part of a wider CSO engagement plan spearheaded by the Ministry in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Multi Country Office in Jamaica under the Social Justice (SO-JUST) project funded by Global Affairs Canada.

Ministry of Justice officials say the CSO engagement is tailored to empower participating organizations to increase awareness on community-based justice services; improve the provision of legal information and services to persons with disabilities; and increase awareness of programmes for children in conflict and in contact with the law.

JAD will provide the Ministry with sign language training and communicating with the deaf sessions to its Legal Aid Council staff, while Children First will focus on bolstering awareness of services available to children in contact and conflict with the law and their guardians, working with the Child Diversion Branch.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Grace Ann Stewart McFarlane underscored the important role CSOs play in strengthening access to justice by underserved groups. “The expertise of these civil society groups like the JAD and Children First working in the communities, garnering insights into their needs will complement the work of the Government in reaching targeted groups providing services to those in need. I endorse these partnerships and welcome them as we work together to reach the people of Jamaica and advance social justice in gaining participation, access, equity and rights,” she said.

"Canada's longstanding dedication to fostering social justice in Jamaica is evident through our continuous collaboration with both the government and civil society organizations to address systematic barriers to the justice system. As the So-JUST project, valued at 12 million CAD over 7 years, picks up momentum, I want to congratulate and encourage the participating organizations to lean into this work and help us make positive change quickly. Canada remains engaged and committed to working with the Government of Jamaica and local stakeholders to advance equitable access to justice and create a better, safer, and more inclusive society," stated Chris DaSilva, Head of Cooperation, Global Affairs Canada

UNDP Programmes Specialist, Stacy-Ann Tomlinson-Knox called for deepened engagement, capacity building and financing of CSOs to bolster effective outreach to the underserved.” She said partnerships between Government and CSOs would be essential for driving the vision for inclusive justice. “Imagine a Jamaica where information is in braille, sign language interpretation is available for the Deaf; access ramps for wheelchairs; proper, separated, facilities for children and women in crisis. Now imagine this as the norm and not the exception,” she stated.

The seven year 12 million Canadian Dollars Social Justice project will address key gaps in access to justice services currently experienced by children, Persons with Disabilities, women, and persons in rural communities.  By 2028 the projects aim to strengthen institutional capacity of justice service providers; expand alternate justice programmes, witness care, child justice and legal aid programmes; increase access by all Jamaicans to information on social justice services; strengthen legislative, policy and programmatic frameworks and modernize records management system.


SO JUST Picture


PHOTO CAPTIONS From left : Principal Director, Social Justice Division, Ms Jamie-Ann Chevannes; Executive Director, Legal Aid Council, Mrs Dian Watson; Programme Specialist, United Nations Development Programme, Stacey Ann Tomlinson and Counsellor and Head of Cooperation, Jamaica/Caribbean Regional Development, High Commission of Jamaica Mr Chris Da Silva after the CSO Engagement Launch Ceremony held at the Jamaica Pegasus on World Day of Social Justice – February 20


Claudette Pious So JUST Project

Mrs Claudette Pious, Executive Director at Children First explaining the proposed programme to be implemented in partnership with the MoJ’s Child Diversion Programme under the SO-JUST Programme.