Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says Justices of the Peace (JPs) are ideally suited to assist in the government’s efforts to implement pro-active and holistic approaches to solving conflicts within communities, such as the restorative justice initiative.
Speaking at the Manchester Lay Magistrates Association’s half yearly meeting at the Golf View Hotel, Mandeville, on January 19; Senator Golding contended that the JPs’ “established” positions within their communities, which see them commanding the respect of their peers, could render them “great forces” toward achieving the objectives of restorative justice.
Restorative justice is designed to facilitate dialogue among the parties impacted by offences committed, in their aftermath, in order to assist them in resolving issues arising and, in the process, minimise the likelihood and possibility of negative implications in the future.
“Your position in your community, being one of respect and honour by your peers, allows you to glean an even deeper understanding of the social issues that plague your communities, and position you to play a particularly vital role in our efforts to bring a different type of justice to the communities of the country. You are, therefore, a particularly important vehicle, through which we will seek to build social capital within the communities of the country, and try and harness the united communities to take the country forward,” the Minister told the JPs in attendance.
Noting that where incidents occur, the rights of suspects and offenders are “quite properly being vigorously championed and watchdogged,” Senator Golding stressed that restorative justice also requires that the rights and needs of victims and their communities be addressed, and that they are not perceived as “merely secondary in the scheme of things” in the justice system.
“The appearance and feeling of justice must be present in the community and not only in the courtroom. (To this end) all Justices of the Peace, from time to time, will be asked to give their advice and counsel to members of their communities,” Senator Golding said.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter