- Phase three roll-out of Jamaica’s justice reform programme, targeting implementation of the Social Order componentwill intensify over the forthcoming months.
- Social Order is one of the three components under the Government’s Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Programme, being implementedwith Global Affairs Canada (GAC) funding support of $19.8 million.
- It is intended to enable all Jamaicans to equitably access gender-responsive justice information, advice and services.
Phase three roll-out of Jamaica’s justice reform programme, targeting implementation of the Social Order componentwill intensify over the forthcoming months.
Social Order is one of the three components under the Government’s Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Programme, being implementedwith Global Affairs Canada (GAC) funding support of $19.8 million.
It is intended to enable all Jamaicans to equitably access gender-responsive justice information, advice and services.
Additionally, it will also improve the capacity of citizens, civil society representatives (including women’s rights organisations), and legal professionals to participate in the justice reform process.
The roll-out commenced with the recent staging of the inaugural Witness Care Conference by the Ministry of Justice at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus in St. Andrew.
The conference was designed to advance solutions for the protection and support of witnesses in the local judicial system by building awareness of witness care best practices and initiatives; promoting ideas and innovations designed to enhance victim support and witness care services; and facilitating multi-agency networking and partnerships among justice administration, law enforcement and social development sector stakeholders.
Canada’s High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Laurie Peters, who spoke at the conference, noted that the event “is but one component of the Social Order aspect of the JUST Programme”.
“You will be seeing and hearing, over the coming weeks and months, other elements … all focused on delivering a citizen-centric programme,” she said.
Among these, the High Commissioner pointed out, is collaboration between the Jamaican and Canadian Bar Associations to ensure that from prosecutorial and defence perspectives “we are looking at access, safety and security of witnesses”.
“It will also take the form of working with other international development partners… to make sure that there are safe spaces and that courthouses function in a way that ensures that witnesses are taken care of and due justice can be done in an efficient and effective manner,” she added.
Mrs. Peters said other focus areas that are expected to be targeted includeincorporating varying formats of communication tools to enable persons to fully understand their rights and how to access justice.
She further indicated that “it could [include] adding two additional mobile justice units… to make sure that free legal advice is being taken out to the communities”.
Mrs. Peters noted that Canada’s approach to extending aid to countries globally has “shifted and developed” over the years, and is now guided by a Feminist International Assistance Policy.
However, she said while there is significant focus on women and girls, “we continue to place emphasis, as we always have, on helping the poorest and most vulnerable in an effort to leave no one behind”.
“This includes increasing equitable access to a functioning justice system. Equitable access to justice provides people and communities with a legal basis upon which to claim their rights and see justice served,” the High Commissioner added.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Peters believes that engagements being implemented under the JUST programme will significantly transform Jamaica’s justice system.
“I do have every confidence that Jamaica will continue to take ownership and accountability for their justice system… and play a leadership role in the region,” she said.
The JUST Programme is being implemented by the Justice Ministry, Justice Reform Implementation Unit (JRIU), Canada’s Department of Justice (Justice Canada), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and other non-state implementing partners.
The programme’s initial components focused on technical-legal assistance and institutional strengthening.