- The recently updated Duty Counsel list, which is part of ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Justice to ensure equity and fairness for all Jamaicans in the justice system, will be available soon.
- Duty Counsel is a scheme under the Ministry of Justice’s Legal Aid Council. It will ensure that all citizens are provided with legal counsel for the period they are taken into police custody up to their first court date.
The recently updated Duty Counsel list, which is part of ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Justice to ensure equity and fairness for all Jamaicans in the justice system, will be available soon.
Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council, Attorney at Law, Hugh Faulkner, told JIS News in a recent interview that in a few weeks, the list will be made available to the public.
Persons will be able to access the list on the Ministry of Justice website. The Legal Aid Council will also be printing and distributing the parish list as well as sending the list to the Police High Command for distribution.
Mr. Faulkner said that justices of the peace (JPs) will also be informed of the updated list.
“This will happen within another two to three weeks. The list has been completed and we have sent the soft copy to some of the entities already,” Mr. Faulkner informed.
Duty Counsel is a scheme under the Ministry of Justice’s Legal Aid Council. It will ensure that all citizens are provided with legal counsel for the period they are taken into police custody up to their first court date.
The facility is intended to provide legal assistance to Jamaicans of limited or modest economic means who cannot afford an attorney.
Duty Counsel provides legal representation for detainees at the identification parade, question-and-answer session by the police, lockup visits, and for posting application for station or court bail.
These services are provided free of cost.
Mr. Faulkner explained that the Duty Counsel list is separate from the general Legal Aid list, which has some 600 attorneys who do trial cases in the criminal courts, whereas Duty Counsel is a much smaller list.
He is reminding members of the public that all persons are entitled to legal representation once taken into police custody, adding that it is the duty of police officers to advise the citizens of their right to this counsel and where it can be accessed.
“I specify legal representation, because there are times when the security forces may use justices of the peace to perform certain functions which we are suggesting ought to be functions performed by an attorney-at-law. The police officer has a duty to inform the citizen that he is not obliged to say anything and is entitled to legal representation to give him further legal advice, because by our law, only a lawyer can give legal advice,” Mr. Faulkner said.
He emphasised that the services of the Duty Counsel are important in ensuring that the rights of the citizen are protected and that he or she has a fair trial.
The Legal Aid Council is a statutory entity under the Ministry of Justice. The Council’s mandate is to administer an efficient and coordinated legal-aid system in Jamaica.