JIS News

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, is encouraging the church to play a more involved role in the implementation of Restorative Justice in Jamaica.
The Permanent Secretary, who was speaking at a restorative justice workshop for ministers of religion, principals and bible workers of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on (July 26), emphasised that the church needed to recognise that it has a role to play in society.
“If the church is a part of the society, it has to play a role and it cannot be content or should not be content with just keeping church services. The church can play a greater role in providing the mechanisms or assisting in providing mechanisms for community harmony and that is what restorative justice is all about,” Mrs. Palmer said.
She added that the church has a significant role to play in promoting stability within the community and therefore, “by the very least, providing a safe space.”
“When somebody offends or when somebody is really hurt and burdened down with problems, they go and look for a church. So it is not a role that is alien to the church, it is just that it is giving the church a greater role where there is already a pre-existence of compassion,” Mrs. Palmer said.
She pointed out that victims needed compassion. “They don’t need people to feel sorry for them. They need people to provide them with an opportunity to work through the problem and help them to become whole again,” the Permanent Secretary said.
Restorative justice is in contrast to the retributive system of justice, which focuses on penalizing offenders. It facilitates a more participatory approach to the delivery of justice, catering to the needs of the victims and perpetrators of crime and the affected community, to foster healing and reconciliation of all parties.
Audrey Sewell, Director of the Justice Training Institute, explained that Restorative Justice was a systematic response to wrong doing.
“It emphasizes healing the wounds of victims, offenders and communities caused or revealed by community members. When a harm has been done it is not the victim alone who is affected, it is the entire community,” Mrs. Sewell said.
The workshop seeks to sensitise participants to the concepts and philosophies of restorative justice; outline and discuss the role of the church in restorative justice and to foster among participants a sense of commitment to the implementation of restorative justice.
Pastor Adrian Cottrell, President of the East Jamaica Conference of Seventh Day Adventist Churches, said he was pleased that a workshop was being held to explain to the church the role they could play in restorative justice.
“We live in a country where many individuals are unable to settle misunderstanding and dispute without resorting to drastic means. Therefore this workshop is most welcomed, especially within the context and culture in which we do our various ministries,” Pastor Cottrell said.
“I believe that this workshop will not only achieve the objectives, but I believe it will help us, as individuals, to perform our tasks more effectively in the various communities that we serve,” he added.

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