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Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding has reiterated Government’s commitment to making the investments necessary to bring about the required improvements in the justice system, despite the economic difficulties.
Giving the keynote address at the official opening of the new Port Antonio court house in Portland on June 24, Mr. Golding said over the years, the justice system has suffered from a lack of well needed resources due to the fact that it was not regarded as a high priority area for investment.
The new court house was built as a result of an agreement between the Government and National Commercial Bank (NCB), under which the bank committed to acquire the old Port Antonio court house, and transform it into the site of the Portland branch of its banking operations, and in return, construct a new state-of-the-art facility in the Boundbrook area of Port Antonio.
Mr. Golding said that in recent times, the country has recognised the need to provide more for the justice system, because of the central and critical role it plays in enabling the proper running of the society.
He noted that the Government does not have the money to provide all the resources needed by the justice system at this time, adding that the country will have to increase its earnings in order to respond positively to the demands of the system.
The Prime Minister argued that the country is going through challenging times economically as a result of the downturn in the bauxite/alumina sector and the decline in remittances from abroad, but the Government is still determined to do more for the justice system in order to improve its efficiency.
He cited the expansion of the Supreme Court building in Kingston, the development of Justice Square in Kingston, the introduction of technology to enhance the working of the system, and the provision of training for Justices of the Peace to enable them to play a greater role in the administration of justice.
Commending NCB for its generosity, the Prime Minister said the partnership between that financial institution and the Government is an indication of the benefits that can be achieved when Government and the private sector are united in a common cause.
Built at a cost of over $280 million, the facility was handed over to the Ministry of Justice in August of last year.
The new structure, which is air conditioned, has three court rooms, two jury rooms with kitchen, three judges’ chambers with private reception areas, two robing rooms for attorneys-at-law, a private secure parking area for judges and staff, and an administrative area.