JIS News

The Ministry of Justice has commenced a series of public consultations to garner input in the development of a Victims’ Charter, in the effort to reverse public perception that the perpetrators of crime and criminal activities have more rights than the victims.
The first consultation was held at the Montego Bay Civic Centre on September 7, with many persons participating in the discussions.
It was established that the State had an obligation to preserve and protect the rights of all citizens and one way of doing so is to develop and maintain a sound justice system in which citizens had confidence and trust.
The Victims’ Charter is therefore intended to address the needs of victims of crime with a view to bringing balance to the manner in which victims and those charged for committing crimes are treated.
In his presentation at the forum, Director of the Victim Support Unit, Rev. Osbourne Bailey, noted that victim support systems, when entrenched in a Victims’ Charter, would be free and confidential and would integrate networks and community involvement. He noted that they would also be neutral and equal to all persons who were victims of crimes.
“When a Victims’ Charter becomes entrenched in this country, I believe that public confidence in the criminal justice system will be greatly enhanced. I also feel that the many cries on placards shown on television for ‘we want justice’ would probably be replaced by an understanding that indeed ‘we have justice’ here in this country,” Rev Bailey said.
“We believe that the respect for human dignity . and much of the harm done to victims will be repaired and some restitution is bound to happen. When individual victims are restored, we also believe that communities will be restored by this process. We believe also that it will bring Jamaica in line with practices internationally, where victims’ rights are entrenched in some form of law,” he added.
Persons were given the opportunity to make their inputs to the draft Victims’ Charter.
The Victim Support Programme in Jamaica, spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice, is the only one of its kind in the entire Caribbean, and is intended to assist persons against whom crimes have been committed.