KINGSTON — Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, says that Government will continue to pursue an aggressive legislative agenda as it seeks to increase access to justice for Jamaicans.
She cited the recent passage of the long-delayed Charter of Rights Bill, which aims to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, as evidence of the Government’s commitment.
She was speaking yesterday April 28 at the opening of the 5th Caribbean Conference on Dispute Resolution at the Jamaica Conference Centre downtown, Kingston. The two-day event, organised by the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) is being held under the theme: ‘Encouraging a Culture of Justice and Peace through Conflict Resolution: Strengthening Your Role’.
Senator Lightbourne commended the DRF on the work it has been doing in strengthening the justice system, through advocacy, service provision and training across the Caribbean in alternative dispute resolution methods, while recognising the invaluable contribution of other regional and international partners.
“Our partnership with the government of Canada in the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) programme has facilitated a number of actions, in particular, the development of our new court management system, which now provides administrative support to the courts,” she informed.
Miss Lightbourne said the International Development Association (IDA), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have also been valuable allies in the development and delivery of a restorative and community justice programme across Jamaica, which was launched in 2010 in four pilot communities.
Through the support of these multilateral agencies, 59 Restorative Justice Facilitators (RJF) were trained in October 2009 by the International Institute for Restorative Practices, with 16 persons selected and trained as trainers. Another 100 persons from the pilot communities were trained as RJFs last year.
In the meantime, Bureau of Women’s Affairs (BWA) Representative, Sharon Robinson, commended the DRF for partnering with the Bureau to implement the Jamaican Women’s Political and Empowerment (the Way Out) project, which aims to facilitate and increase the political and economic power of women and girls through leadership training and development.
She noted further that the National Policy for Gender Equality, which was passed by Parliament in March, will usher in a national strategy to address the specific needs of both women and men.
“It is pivotal to the attainment of Jamaica’s development goals, national and regional goals, as well as the millennium development goals (MDGs), in particular goal three, which speaks to the empowerment of women and the achievement of gender equality,” she informed.
The conference, which is also being held in collaboration with the Mona School of Business and the Caribbean branch of the Champions of Dispute Resolution (CIArb), brings together international experts on mediation, arbitration, and restorative and community justice from Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, St. Lucia and jurisdictions in South and North America.
Plenaries, workshops and presentations will showcase recent innovations in the field and promote knowledge and understanding of alternative methods of dispute resolution.
Other speakers on day one included, Chairman, Mediation Council of Trinidad and Tobago, Justice Vasheist Kokaram; and Representative, Delegation of the European Union, Helen Jenkinson.
Day two will include presentations from Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda; Chief Justice, Hon. Zaila McCalla; and Jamaica Social Investment Fund representative, Ayanna Demetrius.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter