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    • Four additional Family Courts are to be established as part of the Government’s focus on increasing citizens’ access to legal and judicial services.
    • These will be opened in St. Ann; St. Thomas; and Spanish Town and Portmore in St. Catherine.
    • They will be in addition to two which were recently established in Chapleton, Clarendon, and Trelawny.

    Four additional Family Courts are to be established as part of the Government’s focus on increasing citizens’ access to legal and judicial services.

    These will be opened in St. Ann; St. Thomas; and Spanish Town and Portmore in St. Catherine.

    They will be in addition to two which were recently established in Chapleton, Clarendon, and Trelawny.

    Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, made the disclosure in an interview with JIS News following the opening ceremony of the 11th annual Restorative Justice Conference at the AC Marriott Hotel in Kingston on Friday (February 7).

    He said the establishment of the new courts forms part of the conditions of European Union (EU) funding support, totalling approximately $200 million, which is being provided to finance institutional strengthening in the justice sector.

    “We want to see results in terms of the court system… responding to the case backlog. We need to ensure that when our citizens access the courts, they can have their matters settled in a timely matter,” the Minister pointed out.

    The Family Court, which is governed under the Judicature (Family Court) Act, is responsible for all legal proceedings relating to family life, except for divorces. Its structure differs from the other courts, as it provides social services.

    Matters handled include: adoptions; childcare and protection; custody and testamentary guardianship of children; declaration of paternity – live (DNA) and deceased; domestic violence; maintenance; property rights of spouses; and youth delinquency.

    In his address to the various justice sector stakeholders and donor partners at Friday’s conference, Mr. Chuck pointed out that infrastructure development is one of several components involved in creating an effective justice system.

    In relation to the restorative justice programme, Mr. Chuck said the Ministry is seeking to utilize the practices therein as a common feature of the sector.

    “At the end of the day, we want to see our Jamaica being a more peaceful and gentle society. This is where restorative justice is a major plank in ensuring that communities can live together and respond to conflict and disputes in a peaceful and effective way,” he emphasized.

    Restorative justice is considered an alternative dispute resolution method, whereby parties with a stake in a particular offence come together to resolve the matter and determine how to proceed in the aftermath.

    It focuses on holding the offender accountable in a more meaningful way, as it repairs the harm caused by the offence, and helps to reintegrate that individual into the community, in pursuit of healing.

    The conference culminated of the Ministry’s Restorative Justice Week of activities, from February 2 to 7, under the theme ‘Supporting Peace and Unity in Our Community’.

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