JIS News

While it could take some time for Jamaica to reap the potential benefits of the concept of alternative dispute resolution, Jamaicans who are “fervent believers in conflict resolution” are being urged to give active support to the work of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF).
This call was made by Senator A.J. Nicholson, Q.C., Attorney General and Minster of Justice as he addressed the third monthly breakfast meeting, organized by the Foundation in commemoration of its 10th anniversary.
The meeting, which was held recently at the Peace Centre, Camp Road, was convened to discuss developments in the justice sector with participants drawn from the public and private bar, as well as senior administrators from the Ministry of Justice. Also in attendance were the Chief Justice of Jamaica; the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Solicitor General. The Ministry also used the occasion to re-affirm its commitment to assist the DRF in promoting individual responsibility to ensure a more caring society.
According to Minister Nicholson, his comments on the delayed acceptance of the efforts of the Dispute Resolution Foundation came from what he perceived as “the rebelliousness of Jamaicans,” which is compounded by a “tendency to say ‘no, rather than ‘yes.'” As such, the current thrust for the country to adopt a more humane approach towards conflict resolution would require the input of citizens not connected to the Foundation, the Attorney General concluded.
He also spoke on the seeming unwillingness by Jamaicans with differing viewpoints to find “any meaningful accord,” adding that such tendencies can only do the country more harm than good.
In commending the DRF for its 10 years of serve to the country, Minister Nicholson applauded the Foundation’s initiative in securing the support of the Governor General of Jamaica. The formal declaration of calendar 2004 as the National Year of Dispute Resolution by the Governor General at Kings House in January should further cement the work of the Dispute Resolution Foundation in the public mind, the Minister added.
Senator Nicholson pledged the continued assistance and support of the Ministry of Justice during the year-long activities, and beyond. He also called on the Foundation to continue to be a part of the nation’s justice sector that seeks to protect the rights to which all citizens are entitled.
Attorney-at-law and DRF representative, Mr. Ronald Mason suggested at the meeting that mediation clauses in employment contracts should now be the morn as “the cost of conflict at the workplace is enormous, and is sapping our time and energy.”
He also pointed to the mandate to establish mediation procedures when the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) gets off the ground, as well of mediation among international banks, as examples of the growing acceptance of mediation in the trade and commercial arenas.
Miss Donna Parchment, Executive Director of the Foundation, held the view that the move to institutionalize the concept of restorative justice needs a balanced approach, from the pre-trial to post-conviction stages. It must, she stressed, seek to enhance a sense of justice without derailing the things we now hold dear in the justice system.
Miss Parchment reiterated the need for increased dialogue which “is becoming even more important in this hostile environment,” adding that it is her own view that “the way we are handling conflict is the single biggest barrier between Jamaicans and increased development,”
Miss Norma Linton, Q.C., past president of Advocates Association, and Mrs. Donna Scott-Mottley, President, Southern Bar Association, also came out in support of the work being by DRF across the island.

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