As one of the solutions to reduce backlog in the courts, the Justice Ministry has been promoting alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation and restorative justice (RJ) conferences.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, said the Restorative Justice Programme contributed significantly to the decrease in the number of cases now being dealt with in the parish courts, as those that can be resolved without litigation are increasingly being referred to the Justice Centres across the island.
“The rate of reduction over the past 12 months has been particularly strong, with an average monthly reduction of 9.26 per cent in the case backlog. A priority of the Ministry’s ADR agenda, therefore, has been to put in place the framework needed to support a gamut of services to establish restorative justice as a standard feature of the Jamaican justice system,” Mr. Chuck said.
The Minister was making his contribution to the 2020/21 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 24.
Mr. Chuck also informed that all ADR training objectives have been achieved, as the Ministry trained 619 police officers, probation officers and school administrators. Also, 290 sensitisation sessions were held.
“Over 7,000 Jamaicans benefited from RJ processes. In the 2019/20 fiscal year, we facilitated 1,600 cases with 9,000 participants. An impressive 90 per cent of the interventions had successful outcomes, representing a 42.2 per cent increase over the previous year,” he stated.
“We currently have 16 RJ centres, that is, at least one in every parish. Through these offices, we guide victims and offenders towards peaceful conflict resolution and healing in communities,” he added.
Mr. Chuck further noted, “All across Jamaica, restorative justice interventions are changing angry blows into handshakes, and verbal conflict into amicable discourse, one RJ conference at a time.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry is taking steps to effect mediation as a prominent feature on the ADR landscape.
Mr. Chuck said the Ministry is in the process of training hundreds of mediators, adding that in the next fiscal year, “we hope to pass a Mediation Bill as well as to adopt the Singapore Convention on Mediation to facilitate settlement agreement on international trade and commerce”.