Custos of Kingston, Hon. Steadman Fuller, has called on Justices of the Peace (JPs) to play their role in the further transformation of the country’s justice system.
“I firmly believe that we can assist in the transformation of the system, if for example, we play our roles as mediators in the communities in which we live or work, or volunteer our service in the courts that are breaking at the seams and crying out for help. We can also assist in the critical area of visitation of lock ups,” the Custos said.
Mr. Fuller was speaking on July 19, at the installation ceremony for the new batch of 71 JPs for the parish of Kingston, held at the Kingston Bookshop head offices in downtown Kingston.
With the addition of the new members, there are now some 600 JPs serving the parish of Kingston. The JPs were trained for a period of three to six weeks by Judge, Sonia Bertram Linton, in conjunction with the Justice Training Institute (JTI).
The Custos noted that the group of newly installed JPs was the largest cohort to be commissioned since his installation some three years ago. “We are adding to our roll another exceptional list of persons drawn from many areas of national life – business, law, banking, sports, social work, religion, and the media,” he informed.
He charged the JPs to take their responsibilities seriously and to carry out their tasks with the utmost integrity and to the best of their abilities. “I want you to understand the height of the bar to which you have been called. Your selection was not a light decision, as others have been turned down, while you have been chosen,” he said.
Mr. Fuller said he is determined to move the role of the Justice of the Peace from just “a signer of documents,” to one that can to assist in the development of Jamaica’s justice system through service and voluntarism.
“I trust that with God’s help, we can work to make the parish of Kingston a model for all Jamaica,” he said.
The Custos informed that all justices of the peace are now mandated to undergo a period of intensive training through the JTI before they are installed.
“I’m pleased to advice that our training schedule has been widened to include justices who were commissioned prior to the year 2006 and had therefore not been exposed to the curriculum,” he said.
In the meantime, Chairperson, Kingston Chapter (Board of Directors), Jamaicans for Justice, Susan Goffe, charged the JPs to be vigilant in carrying out their functions, particularly the supervision of police lock ups.
She noted that there are still many instances of persons being held in deplorable conditions in police lock ups as well as those detained for months without being charged.
“When Resident Magistrates and Justices of the Peace visit on a regular basis, there is less likelihood of these things happening,” Mrs. Goffe said.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter