JIS News

A comprehensive reform of the justice system is being undertaken and is to be given priority budgetary support in the 2006/07 financial year. The reform will be based on three pillars, namely, access, quality and speed. A reform unit will be established in the Ministry of Justice to spearhead the five-year reform programme. This was decided at the Cabinet Retreat being held at the Couples Sans Souci, St. Mary.
Prime Minister Patterson said that the cost of services in the justice system must be addressed as a priority and that the state must be prepared to fund the improvements that the Jamaican people are demanding.
The construction of new courthouses and the remediation of existing ones and the regionalisation of the Supreme Court are among the initiatives that the Ministry of Justice will continue to implement in the new financial year. The Courts will also be upgraded to facilitate evidence by live television links.
A programme of regionalisation of the Supreme Court and further Justice Training and Court Reporting initiatives will be pursued. The regionalisation of the Supreme Court will result in the establishment of three regional centers in St. Ann, St. James and Manchester and an improvement in access and case turn over, while the Justice Training Institute will be expanded and court reporters introduced in Resident Magistrate Courts in September 2006.
The Ministry of Justice will introduce case flow management systems to improve timeliness and address backlog of cases. This will involve the introduction of continuous sittings of Circuit Courts.
In addition, the Ministry will design a fee structure in matters of criminal and civil jurisdictions including cases where custodial sentences are imposed.
Also on the agenda to improve the justice system are the establishment of a Victim’s Charter and the computerisation of the Jury selection process.
Among the other issues considered at the first day of the Cabinet Retreat were the Country Plan for Sugar, the Energy Policy, Constitutional reform and the Legislative Agenda for the next three months.
The Retreat ends tomorrow (Saturday January 7, 2007).