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JIS News

More than $87 million has been earmarked to conduct a comprehensive review of the island’s justice system to include the development of plans for the transformation of the Justice Ministry and its related institutions.
Of the total, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will be contributing $59.35 million (CDN$1 million), with $28 million to come from the Jamaican government.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, told JIS News that the contract has been negotiated and signed. The project is expected to commence in mid-September and will be in full gear by mid-October. It is projected to last for a period of nine months.
“The outcome of the contract signing will be the engagement of a relevant team of experts from the Canadian jurisdiction to assist us in doing some detailed analysis of the operations of the justice system with a view to a full modernization of our processes, structures and systems and to improve our levels of accountability,” she informed.
The review will examine a number of areas, including case management, where the consultants are going to be looking at workload, the demands for the services of the courts and structures and processes.
Mrs. Palmer said that attention would also be given to “the systems of statistics.what new things we need to do to improve our productivity, and our level of public accountability will be addressed as well. So we are going to be looking at the development of standards, performance measurements”.
At the end of the process, she said, “we hope someone could say, given the load, this is the rate of output, that cases should be concluded in our courts at the Resident Magistrate level or the Supreme Court level. In essence, there will be some level of predictability in the process as opposed to how we operate now.”
Technical assistance was competitively recruited, and the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) won the bid to provide services for conducting the review.
According to Mrs. Palmer, the review is intended to be extensive and participatory in nature. “We are expecting the review to be a national exercise and we will be going to all stakeholders, including the general public, to get their input. People talk about ‘we want justice’ all the time and so we are going to find out exactly what they mean by this.
Also, we will be having discussions to say, ‘Is this realistic what you are asking?’ or based on what you have asked this is what we can provide,” she told JIS News.
The review, when completed, is intended to assist with the full modernization plan for the justice sector, in keeping with the Public Sector Modernisation Programme (PSMP), which is coordinated by the Public Sector Reform Unit (PSRU) with funding from international development partners.
CIDA is a major partner in the process and will fund the costs associated with bringing in the consultants from Canada. CIDA has also pledged commitment to the Government of Jamaica to continue support for the modernisation of the justice sector and the enhancement of the country’s governance systems.