JIS News

Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, has said that the Ministry has established a number of strategic priorities for the financial year, as it works to improve efficiency at all levels of the court system, and enhance access to justice for Jamaicans.
These priority targets, which she said, were highlighted in the justice reform agenda, and for which the Ministry of Finance and Public Service has agreed to provide budgetary support, entail ensuring fair and timely resolution of cases; establishing a sound court infrastructure; and strengthening public trust and confidence in the justice system.
Senator Lightbourne, who was addressing the official opening ceremony for the new Port Antonio Court House on Wednesday (June 24), indicated that the budgetary support would also enable the continuation of work started during the 2008/2009 fiscal year.
As it relates to reducing the backlog of court cases, she said that among the measures, was an increase in the number of judges in the court system. Legislative amendments have been made over the last 18 months to increase the number of judges serving in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Resident Magistrates Courts.
In the meantime, Senator Lightbourne, who is also the Attorney General, pointed to the need for partnership between the government and stakeholders in the justice system to effectively address inadequacies, noting that the construction of the Port Antonio Court House was an example of such collaboration.
The building was erected at a cost of $280 million, under a partnership arrangement between the Government and the National Commercial Bank (NCB). Under the agreement, NCB agreed to renovate the old Port Antonio Courthouse, which will become the site of its Portland branch. In return, the bank agreed to construct the new state-of-the-art court facility, which was designed with the same Georgian profile as the old courthouse.
Noting that the project started under the watch of former Minister of Justice Senator A. J. Nicholson, Senator Lightbourne expressed gratitude to NCB for working to make the project a reality, and commended Ministry of Justice staff for their commitment to the project.
Others addressing the opening ceremony were Prime Minister, Bruce Golding; Chief Justice, Zaila McCalla; President of the Court of Appeal, Seymour Panton; Custos of Portland, Roy Thompson; and Member of Parliament for Eastern Portland, Dr. Donald Rhodd.

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