All Jamaicans Must be Treated Fairly – Prime Minister


Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller has called for an immediate improvement in the treatment of the citizens in their interaction with the various sectors of the justice system, particularly in the island’s courts.
“One of the most consistent problems in the justice system identified by members of the public is the lack of respect with which they are treated in the courts. and so we need to carry forward the culture of change in the public sector as part of the reform of the justice system,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said in her address at the opening of the two-day National Justice Reform Summit at the Jamaica Conference Centre, on May 10.
While acknowledging the need for resources to be allocated towards the overall improvement of the system, Mrs. Simpson Miller said, “We often talk about the money it will take to reform our justice system, yet some of the most urgent and pressing things which need to be done do not require money.”
“How much does it cost to show respect to the poor? How much does it cost to treat the uneducated with respect? How much does it cost to show people that we value their time, and what is the cost of serving people, regardless of their street address, occupation, or lack of it?” she said.
Noting that the court should be a place associated with justice and equity, she asserted that the ongoing reform of the justice system would convert the sector to a state where the inequalities, delays, and inefficiencies by which it is now characterised, will become features of the past.
“It is a total transformation of the system,” she said, emphasising that a proper justice system was essential to a success of the nation. “There is no way that this country can experience the peace, harmony trust, co-operation and consensus building which it so desperately needs, without a credible justice system,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
Mrs. Simpson Miller affirmed that the reform was being treated as a matter of high priority, stating that “the issue is not whether we can afford a proper and efficiently running justice system, but that the cost of not having one is far greater, unbearable, and unacceptable.”
Plans for the overhaul of the justice system emerged with a commitment from Cabinet in January 2006 to provide the necessary resources for the undertaking.
Subsequently the justice sector has received budgetary allocations, which are significantly higher than any amount previously allotted.
To date, a comprehensive review of the system has been undertaken, with assistance from a team of consultants from the Canadian Bar Association, and the Jamaica Justice System Reform Task Force. The findings from the review phase as well as recommendations for the reform are documented in a 260 – page preliminary report.

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