National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, says an improved judicial system is needed in the country, in order to augment the crime fighting efforts of the nation’s police force.
Speaking at the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) Chairman’s Club Forum Breakfast, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on March 20,
Mr. Bunting lamented what he described as the “culture of adjournment” currently existing in the country’s judicial system, which sees cases being postponed for varying reasons when listed for court sittings.
“What we need to do is break (this) culture of adjournment…where cases go on interminably – they just go from one adjournment to another. What this does is expose your witnesses. It gives more time to organised criminals to find the witnesses, to intimidate them, and even to kill them. And even if they (witnesses) don’t get molested, with the passage of time, their memories of the incident (before the courts) become more vague, and they are more vulnerable to cross-examination,” the Minister argued.
Mr. Bunting also cited the low conviction rate for murders, which averaged approximately five per cent, based on figures the Ministry received. He informed that, based on the statistics, of the average 1,154 murders per year, committed between 2004 and 2010, the total number cleared up each year was approximately 602.
“But most of those cleared up, were either by death or acquittal. Death in the sense of these persons being killed by other gang members or the police. In fact, only 12 per cent of the 602 were cleared up by sentencing. That works out at an average of five per cent per year of the murders committed,” he outlined, while pointing to a backlog of cases, amounting to approximately 480,000.
“So, until we can move that five per cent to something like 60 or 70 per cent, we really won’t have a serious justice system,” Mr. Bunting contended.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter