Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, says he will shortly bring to Cabinet a strategy for alternative dispute resolution in Jamaica.
The strategy seeks to encourage potential litigants to mediate matters before they file cases in the Courts, which would eliminate the need for lengthy trials in those instances.
“The Government will be doing its very best to ramp up mediation. It is urgent that… we get all the civil cases to be referred for mediation, and in the criminal cases in the Supreme and Parish Courts.
“We need to use more restorative justice… rather than… go through a long trial. If they can be encouraged to plead guilty and also to make up with their victims in appropriate cases, a lot of these cases can be dealt with [quickly],” Minister Chuck contended.
He was making his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 4).
The Minister noted that the use of restorative justice has had major success across the island, with a Restorative Justice Centre established in every parish, where Jamaicans can access free justice services.
“We now have 18 centres, and the success of restorative justice practice is really overwhelming. In the 2020/21 fiscal year, 18,000 Jamaicans participated in restorative justice conferences and [of the] 1,960 cases which came into our centres, 1,804 of them were successfully resolved. This represents a 92 per cent success rate,” he said.
Minister Chuck told the House that restorative justice is now being introduced in the correctional services as part of the overall remediation strategy.
“We [are seeing] great success [in healing] the offenders… who are now in custody in prison, where they make up with many of the victims and families that have abandoned them, and this is a success story,” he said.
The Justice Minister argued that restorative justice practices, such as mediation, provide a win-win strategy and is, therefore, encouraging litigants and attorneys to “mediate, rather than litigate”.
“In truth, our people need to resolve disputes, disagreements, difficulties in a more appropriate reconciliatory manner… . They have to find ways and means to see how they can really pull things together and reconcile as best as possible,” he said.