JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner says persons need to become more aware of their rights provided under the Constitution and laws of Jamaica.
  • Mr. Faulkner noted that while there may be instances where the rights of an individual have been curtailed “it must never be arbitrarily done or be considered par for the course, because it is not and should not be seen as that.”

Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner says persons need to become more aware of their rights provided under the Constitution and laws of Jamaica.

He said the Ministry of Justice has made available legal services to communities through its mobile unit, where aggrieved persons have sought assistance on a range of matters.

“The Constitution and the laws of Jamaica protect the liberty of the citizen…that is something we want everybody to know,” Mr. Faulkner stated.

He was speaking in an interview with JIS news at the Mount Salem Community Centre, St. James, where the mobile unit was stationed on September 13.

Mr. Faulkner noted that while there may be instances where the rights of an individual have been curtailed “it must never be arbitrarily done or be considered par for the course, because it is not and should not be seen as that.”

He further pointed out that every person who is detained or remanded at a police station lockup, whether charged or not, may be granted legal aid if he or she has not been put before the court.

“Legal aid is the provision of assistance to persons otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. It is also central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial,” he explained.

Mr. Faulkner noted that once an accused is charged with a criminal offence, “you can apply for assistance to obtain legal representation.”

“An attorney will be assigned to your case to prepare it before you go to trial and to represent you at trial. Everyone, including persons detained or charged with an offence can be granted legal aid under the Duty Counsel Scheme. This is so, even if you intend to get your own lawyer at a later stage,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Attorney assigned to the Legal Aid Council, Sue-Ann Lowe said while she is cognizant of the stigma that has been attached to the department, she stated that the service that is provided is of a “high quality”.

“If it is a situation such as murder, you will be getting a lawyer with at least ten years’ experience to deal with your situation. Even on appeal, we have provided resources to pay for forensic evidence, to assist persons who were convicted in circuit court. And yes, we have had persons exonerated as a result,” she argued

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