Custos of St. James, Bishop the Hon. Conrad Pitkin, says there will be harsh penalties for Justices of the Peace (JPs) who are inclined to be unethical in carrying out their duties.
Speaking at a recent Specialised Training for Justices of the Peace at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James, Custos Pitkin said that while there is no doubt that a majority of JPs follow the letter of the law, there are still those who have no qualms about bringing the office into disrepute.
He pointed to the Justices of the Peace Act, 2018, aimed at strengthening the regime governing the functions of JPs, as proof of a new era where there will be zero tolerance for bad behaviour and corruption.
The recent Act provides for codifying the selection, appointment, discipline, regulation and code of conduct of JPs, and increasing the geographical jurisdiction of JPs.
“I am urging you not to recommend anyone by filling out forms or vouch for persons you do not know,” Bishop Pitkin told the JPs.
“I am also asking you to refrain from giving recommendations or sign documents for persons you do not know…whether inside or outside St. James,” he added.
The Custos said that being a JP comes with a lot of responsibility and that the public expects nothing less than being served by persons of high moral fortitude.
He also encouraged the JPs to report members who are in breach of “the principles and code of conduct of the office.”
“Speak to them first and if he or she refuses to listen, you should then do the next thing by reporting what you know to the office of the Custos,” Bishop Pitkin said.
He also reminded that it is written in law that a JP cannot and should not be charging the public for their service, warning that perpetrators or those who insist on doing so will be severely punished.