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Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, says that the Commonwealth Lawyers Association Conference, now underway in Montego Bay St. James, is being held at a time when the justice landscape is facing global and national challenges. He noted that the conference provides a valuable opportunity for redressing imbalances, reinforcing fundamental concepts, sharing ideas and practices and finding common cause in resisting the forces that undermine the system of justice in respective countries.
Mr. Golding was addressing the opening session of the 25th Anniversary Conference of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay this morning (Oct 17).
He said that terrorism, no longer confined to internal conflicts but now internationalised, has led to conflicts between the hallowed principles of fundamental rights and the compelling needs of national security. Mr. Golding said Governments need to be mindful of the dangers of attempting to reengineer their legal and judicial systems in their efforts to protect their citizens from international terrorism.
Jamaica, he said, is currently grappling with this dilemma and although not directly affected by international terrorism, has had to acknowledge its vulnerability and take steps to ensure that it is able to respond.
The Prime Minister said that even though the ideal is for a perfect justice system, there are inadequacies and deficiencies in the delivery of justice which vary from country to country. He said that the causes of the deficiencies range “from an inadequacy of will to the inadequacy of resources to administrative dysfunctionalities and disruptive cultural norms that unbalance the scale of justice.”
The members of the Association were urged to keep as a priority item on their agenda, the tackling of the deficiencies and the redressing of imbalances. He suggested it would be useful if the deliberations of the conference included examination of “the defence of human rights against the new, emerging threats to human rights”.
Mr. Golding said the theme chosen by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association for their conference, ‘Justice at Home and Abroad’, is an apt one as it reflects that justice knows no boundaries and does not have territorial jurisdictional limits.
The Conference closes on Sunday, October 19 with an address by the Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson.
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), was established in 1938, and adopted in Jamaica in 1986. It is the foremost international lawyers’ organisation in the Commonwealth which seeks to promote and maintain the Rule of Law throughout the Commonwealth, by ensuring that an independent and efficient legal profession serves the people’s of the Commonwealth with the highest standards of ethics and integrity.