KINGSTON — Minister of Justice, the Hon. Delroy Chuck, says that the Government will seek to strengthen its victim support initiatives, by setting up a fund to assist victims of crimes.
Mr. Chuck, who was addressing the official opening of the West Kingston Satellite Counselling Centre in Denham Town, Wednesday (October 5), pledged that his ministry will not only focus on dealing with offenders, but will also seek to assist victims of criminal offences.
"In due course, we can put together a victim compensation fund that can go a far way in assisting the victims of crimes, especially with their medical expenses, to put them back on a footing and to give them assistance so that they know that others care,” he said.
Highlighting the value of the Victim Support Unit (VSU) at his ministry, he said that it is “absolutely clear” that, even in minor offences victims feel violated.
"When it is a serious offence, the victim feels not only violated but traumatized, and these victims simply need support: They want someone to talk to, who can counsel them on to where to go,” he stated.
Mr. Chuck said counselling will assist victim to see new light, and the Victim Support Unit will be actively working with the victim volunteer counsellors.
"You don’t want a situation where a criminal attack inspires another criminal attack. You want immediate intervention, so that the victims of crime and their relatives and friends can feel that the country, that the ministry and other persons, understand what they are going through,” he argued.
The VSU, an arm of the Ministry of Justice, has been officially mandated to facilitate Healing and Justice for all Victims of Crime. Through its administration of various programmes of therapeutic intervention, the VSU assists persons against whom certain offences have been committed.
The Unit is also committed to the best interests of victims of crime by identifying their needs and advocating their rights.
Funding for the West Kingston Centre was provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the Ministry of National Security’s Jamaica Violence Prevention Peace and Sustainable Development Programme. A building was provided by the Open Bible Standard Churches of Jamaica, which has been equipped to provide counselling and trauma support services for individuals, as well as groups.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter