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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Sancia Bennett Templer, says Justices of the Peace (JPs) are playing an important role as repositories of information in their communities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

She noted that the public servants provide an important lifeline to these individuals, many of whom are not able to access information from critical public institutions because of the restrictive environment due to the virus.

“Your services as JPs are in great demand, especially in these times when persons are not able to visit some of the places they normally would for information or are unable to access information online because of lack of connectivity or difficulty navigating the virtual space,” she said.

“You are in demand to provide ongoing information in your communities. We are happy to help you to provide this information to use in these circumstances,” Mrs. Bennett Templer added.

She was addressing the Ministry’s second virtual JPs sensitisation session on Friday (December 4), which targeted approximately 150 JPs from Hanover, Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth.

The first session for 150 JPs from Trelawny, St. Ann and St. Mary was held on October 22.

The sensitistion events are part of ongoing training to equip JPs with the requisite knowledge to execute their duties.

Mrs. Bennett Templer said that over the last year, the Ministry, in conjunction with Custodes, commissioned 500 new JPs, bringing the total to 9,266 across the parishes. The Ministry has set a target of 10,000.

The Permanent Secretary noted that the pandemic has also brought into sharp focus the significant role of JPs in communities across the island in maintaining peace and order, through the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and other conflict resolution techniques advocated by the Ministry.

“In these times, when everything is so constrained and confined, especially in communities and in homes where conflicts can escalate, we feel that your work in your communities in helping to resolve conflicts is one of the very important jobs that you do,” the Permanent Secretary said.

“We encourage you to continue in those areas of work and we ask you to continue working with us in these areas as well. We thank you for your service to the country of Jamaica and to your communities and to your ongoing collaboration with the Ministry as we seek to fulfil our mandate,” she added.

The session featured presentations by representatives from the Ministry, the Financial Investigations Division, the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and the Administrator-General’s Department (AGD).

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