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Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, has warned Justices of the Peace (JPs) who are actively engaged in the current political campaign for the upcoming General Elections on August 27, not to adjudicate matters in the courts.
“If you (Justice of the Peace) are actively campaigning, you need to advise the Custos, so that he can remove you from the Roster until after August 27 because you cannot be wearing colours while you are dealing with people’s business on the bench.
If you speak to the Resident Magistrates, they will tell you that they cannot and ought not to wear any colours signalling political affiliation while they sit on the bench,” she said.
Mrs. Palmer was giving the main address at the swearing-in of 27 new JPs for St. James, held at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay, on (July 19).
She pointed out that as JPs and administrators of the Ministry of Justice, they should make every effort to preserve and maintain the integrity of the office of JP, one of the bastions of society.
“The office of Justice of the Peace came out of what was decent society and in fact in your community you are the first keeper of the peace, so therefore you have to stand up for something to be able to enjoy the respect, trust and confidence of the citizens,” she told the new JPs.
“The citizens in St. James must have found in you those qualities that are features of the character of Justices of the Peace. They must have satisfied the police, your Resident Magistrates and the Custos, hence you have been trained and are here today for your swearing-in so whatever it takes, whatever rules, principles, protocol or guidelines we will have to adopt, whatever amendments to the law we have to do, then we will do so in order to maintain one of the bastions of our society,” Mrs. Palmer stressed. She highlighted the tremendous work being done by JPs across the country in assisting citizens to authenticate documents, and for participating in the various aspects of the court system.
“We really want to pause to commend you as Justices of the Peace for the work you do. It is work in this country that we could not pay for,” Mrs. Palmer said.