Justice Reform Programme Boosted by $3.3-Billion Grant

Photo: Michael Sloley Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck (left), looks on as Finance and Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw (centre), and Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, peruse details of the agreement formalising the EU’s provision of approximately $3.3 billion (€22 million) in grant funding for Jamaica’s Justice Reform Programme. The agreement was signed during a ceremony at the Finance Ministry in Kingston, on December 8. Overseeing the proceeding is the Finance Ministry’s Communications Director, Elaine Oxamendi-Vicet.

Story Highlights

  • The Justice Reform Programme has been further boosted by an additional European Union (EU) grant of $3.3 billion (€22 million).
  • Some $3 billion, to be managed by the Government, has been earmarked for budgetary support, while the EU will administer the remaining $275.4 million that will be channelled into two critical areas.
  • Noting that the EU is keeping abreast of the reform programme’s implementation, Ambassador Wasilewska gave the organisation’s undertaking to “help, encourage and walk alongside you with all the means at our disposal”.

The Justice Reform Programme has been further boosted by an additional European Union (EU) grant of $3.3 billion (€22 million).

The provision, which has been allocated under the justice component of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), is the single largest by the EU to the programme.

Some $3 billion, to be managed by the Government, has been earmarked for budgetary support, while the EU will administer the remaining $275.4 million that will be channelled into two critical areas.

A total of $137.7 million will fund technical assistance, evaluation and audits, communication and visibility services, while the remaining $137.7 million will be offered to civil-society organisations through calls for proposals to contribute to improving access to justice, with emphasis on vulnerable groups.

The overall provision aims to assist with the Government’s implementation of the Justice Reform Programme over the next four years, as part of its ongoing undertaking to create a secure, cohesive and just society.

An agreement formalising the provision was signed during a ceremony at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in Kingston on December 8.

The signatories included Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck; Finance and the Public Service Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw; and Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska.

Witnessing the proceedings were Financial Secretary, Everton McFarlane, and Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Carol Palmer.

Mr. Chuck, in welcoming the provision, said it represents more than half of the Administration’s funding requirement to advance the reform programme up to 2020.

Noting that Jamaica “stands on the cusp of a watershed year in the justice system”, he said several activities are slated to be undertaken in 2017.

These, he outlined, include: the roll-out of audio, video and transcription technologies in the courts islandwide under the Justice, Security, Accountability and Transparency (JSAT) Programme; a ‘Know Your Rights’ public-awareness campaign; expansion of the restorative justice programme in approximately 1,000 schools islandwide, with the assignment of at least three trained and certified Restorative Justice Practice Facilitators in each institution; and the establishment of a restorative justice office in each parish to coordinate school and community programmes and provide support to local courts.

Others are the commencement of work, in collaboration with the custodes, to ramp up the Justices of the Peace (JP) recruitment drive; strengthening of the Justice Training Institute’s role in planning and executing training programmes islandwide; and the commencement of training for 500 mediators.

The activities are expected to facilitate greater access to justice services at the community level; enhance the justice system’s efficiency; streamline restorative justice interventions; treat with children in conflict with the law in accordance with international conventions, and mainstream a child diversion programme into the justice programme; and reduce the backlog of court cases.

Expressing gratitude for the EU’s ongoing “tangible and substantial” support to Jamaica, Mr. Chuck emphasised that the country can ill-afford to squander the gains attained so far under the reform programme.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shaw said the EU’s latest provision will make a substantial difference to the pace and success of a critical plank in the administration’s programme to reshape the economy.

“It cannot be reshaped without tackling the justice system in a profound and critical way; and this (justice reform) programme is directed to that end,” he noted.

For her part, Ambassador Wasilewska cited measures implemented by successive governments to reform Jamaica’s justice system.

“Having met with you and had the chance to discuss your aims and plans, I know you are fully committed to modernising this most crucial sector,” she said.

Noting that the EU is keeping abreast of the reform programme’s implementation, Ambassador Wasilewska gave the organisation’s undertaking to “help, encourage and walk alongside you with all the means at our disposal”.

JIS Social