One hundred and fifty-two Justices of the Peace (JP) across six parishes have received training in mediation techniques since the start of the year.
The parishes are St. Catherine, Kingston, St. Andrew, Manchester, Clarendon and St. Elizabeth.
The training, which got under way in February, is in keeping with the justice reform agenda of the Ministry of Justice, aimed at reducing the backlog of cases in the courts and improving peace building at the community level. The Ministry is targeting the training of 500 JPs as mediators under the initiative.
Chief Executive Officer for the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), which is facilitating the sessions, Jennifer McDonald, told the JPs that they are being trained to “try and resolve issues so that persons will not resort to violence, so that other areas of the society can function”.
“The role that you play is not just with the justice system… but has much wider implications in the society at large,” she pointed out.
Mrs. McDonald was addressing the most recent session held on September 1 at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School where 13 JPs were trained.
JP Valarie Slew-Forsyth lauded the efforts of the Ministry and urged that the training be extended to ministers of religion.
“We are leaving here this evening feeling empowered and really excited about going into our communities to try to maintain and encourage peace among the citizens,” she added.
The training includes a period of practicum where the JPs will observe mediation and be allowed to conduct sessions under supervision. They will then be assessed to determine their competency for certification.
Thereafter, a list will be sent to the Chief Justice to be gazetted, authorising the JPs to mediate cases that are referred from the parish courts.
The DRF is a private voluntary organization that encourages the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques through the use of restorative justice practices to promote peace and resolve conflicts without the use of violence.