JIS News

As part of efforts to enhance the justice system in Jamaica, it is anticipated that by mid-year, judges will be able to accelerate and make more efficient, court procedures and proceedings, through the use of technology.
“So (for example) the judge can sit in their chambers, go to their computer and fix a date for the cases. At the moment, the judge has to call down to the registry, which has to go through several notebooks to find a correct date,” Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne explained at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday (Jan. 30).
The use of technology is part of measures to transform the justice system, through an integration of some key recommendations of the Justice Reform Task Force, with the administration’s manifesto pledges that fall in line with the recommendations.
“This (Justice Transformation) agenda is really the justice sector’s section of the National Development Plan, which takes us to 2030, which we needed to have, so that our international donors too, can see where we are going,” Senator Lightbourne told the press.
The Justice Minister outlined the areas where action will be taken urgently, or have already started including restorative justice; victims charter; national plan of action for child justice; and a five-year physical infrastructure development plan, which involves the rehabilitation and building of courthouses.
She noted that the Director of Public Prosecutions’ department will be expanded, under the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) programme, to make it more efficient, and provide better case management, “so that the whole thing is better managed, rather than the lawyers managing (the cases) themselves, you have managers put in, so the lawyers can get on with their work.
“In the fight against crime, we also have to strengthen our prosecution side of it, so that they are properly prepared when they go to court, and that the defense lawyers have the opportunity to also strongly and fairly defend,” Senator Lightbourne stated.
The main concerns that have been highlighted by the Task Force include: delays; lack of respect for persons who come in contact with the system; need for improvement to courthouses and infrastructure; inadequate funding; inconsistency in enforcement of laws; need to simplify procedures and laws; need to make access to the justice system easier and more affordable; perception of unequal treatment of persons; insufficient attention paid to human rights; unprofessional conduct of personnel in the system; outdated practices, procedures and laws; the jury system, as it relates to scheduling of the court system; court management and administration; and accountability.

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