JIS News

Story Highlights

  • President of the Senate, Senator Floyd Morris is advocating that the Ministry of Justice appoint at least one court officer with sign language expertise in each parish, to improve the deaf population’s access to the Justice System.
  • The President of the Senate was speaking at the re-opening ceremony for the Santa Cruz Resident Magistrate’s Court building in St Elizabeth on Thursday, November 5.
  • He also saluted the government for not only passing the Disabilities Act of 2014, but for also implementing the provisions of the Act.

President of the Senate, Senator Floyd Morris is advocating that the Ministry of Justice appoint at least one court officer with sign language expertise in each parish, to improve the deaf population’s access to the Justice System.

“It is very important because we have a deaf population… (and) their rights are violated from time to time, and we have to equip the staff to understand how to relate and how to communicate with these individuals,” Senator Morris stated.

The President of the Senate was speaking at the re-opening ceremony for the Santa Cruz Resident Magistrate’s Court building in St Elizabeth on Thursday, November 5.

He also saluted the government for not only passing the Disabilities Act of 2014, but for also implementing the provisions of the Act.

He stated that according to figures from the United Nation, Jamaica’s population of persons with disabilities stood at 15 percent of the general population, or approximately 400,000 persons.

“Jamaica is not a state that is owned and controlled solely by able-bodied individuals, it is a society that consists of different individuals, from different backgrounds, with different experiences and we have to make sure that when we put in place public policy it is inclusive, it is participatory and it is non-discriminatory,” Senator Morris said.

With this in mind, Senator Morris, who is also Director of the University of the West Indies Centre for Disabilities Studies, and is visually impaired, called for the provision of legislation to enable blind persons to be accepted as witnesses.

“I have heard people say, a blind (person) can’t be a witness in the courts. People must understand that there are certain (distinctiveness) about a person with visual impairment…As a blind person, I am able to pick up and recognize a voice quite well and that is the situation with a lot of persons with visual impairment. So we have to take these peculiarities into consideration when we are dealing with different cases (and ) individuals,” the Senator stated.

Pointing to the Government of Jamaica / Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID) collaboration in training officers of the courts and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Senator Morris said efforts should be taken to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills to relate to persons with disabilities.