Government Committed to Community Justice Tribunals/Restorative Justice


Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, has re-emphasised the Government’s commitment to the establishment of Community Justice Tribunals.
“These tribunals are to be conducted by Justices of the Peace, and other legitimate community leaders, who will resolve disputes between citizens that do not involve criminal offences,” the Minister explained about the tribunals, which were an element of the Government’s election manifesto in 2007.
“This new regime contemplates that matters are heard with the consent of the disputing parties, and agreed settlements enforceable by the Courts,” she said in her contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on Friday (Feb.13).
She said that the policy governing the establishment and operation of the tribunals is being developed.
“In order to enhance the capacity of the Justices of the Peace to serve on these tribunals, we will focus on developing and delivering specialised training, through the Justice Training Institute (JTI), with competent consultant support,” she said.
She said that the Ministry is taking steps to establish at least four tribunals.
“The communities proposed are – Granville, St. James; May Pen, Clarendon; Spanish Town, St. Catherine; and one other community to be selected,” she explained.
May Pen and Spanish Town already have Peace and Justice Centres, which will be used to facilitate the establishment of tribunals in those communities, Senator Lightbourne said.
She further informed the Senate that the Ministry of Justice is currently seeking expertise to assist in developing the framework for their establishment and operation.
She added that the Ministry is also organising its third International Restorative Justice Conference for May, which will emphasise Community Justice Tribunals.
“We expect to have facilitators, not only to present papers, but also to train Justices of the Peace and citizens at the community level,” Senator Lightbourne said.
A system of restorative justice has been recommended as one of the mechanisms for reduction of the case backlog, as well as a means of allowing citizens to reach just resolutions of disputes.
Restorative justice focuses on mitigating the harm that wrongdoing causes to people and their relationships, and seeks to restore the relationships among all who are affected: the victim, the perpetrator and the community.

JIS Social