Speaking at a sensitisation session for lay magistrates in the parishes of Trelawny, St. Ann and St. James on September 13, at the Royalton White Sands Hotel in Trelawny, Mr. Chuck said that not only will JPs be expected to participate in the Social Intervention Committees in the initial stages, but their work will have to extend even after operations in the zones.
“In terms of the long-term development, I will be urging the JPs to assist, to make sure that these communities get the proper attention,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that efforts will be made to train more JPs this year, so that they can play a stronger social and judicial role in their parishes.
“Far too many of the parishes are underserved by justices of the peace. I would like all the parishes to have at least 500 JPs by early next year. There is no doubt that apart from having 500 JPs, we are also going to have additional training, so that the JPs can participate in restorative justice, human trafficking, child abuse, and drug abuse cases,” he said.
The Minister emphasised the importance of making justice and information about justice programmes accessible to the public, and outlined that the Government is seeking to do its part to ensure that individuals can access legal services.
This, he said, will be made possible through the establishment of parish justice centres across the island as well as through the mobile legal-aid unit.
For her part, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Justice, Grace-Ann Stewart McFarlane, who represented the Director/Principal of the Justice Training Institute, Karen Campbell-Bascoe, said the main objective of the training session, which was launched in February, is to enhance and strengthen the capacity of JPs to function in the quasi-judicial system, while ensuring that there is a good cadre of well-trained JPs to support the justice system.
The training also included presentations by representatives from the Administrator General’s Department on Inheritance and Writing Wills, Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) on Land Titling, and Office of the Public Defender on Human Rights.
The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act was passed earlier this year in Parliament.
Under the Act, JPs have the responsibility to ensure that the human rights and freedom of all citizens are safeguarded and that the Custos, or a nominee of the Custos with jurisdiction over the parish, should be appointed to the Social Intervention Committee.
The first ZOSO was declared for Mount Salem in St. James on September 1. It will last for 60 days.
- Countries: Jamaica