Justice Ministry to Broaden Human Rights Discussions


The Ministry of Justice and the Northern Caribbean University (NCU), have joined forces to address the need to broaden the discussions on human rights as well as to discuss the role of the justice system to protect these rights.
This will be done by way of a symposium on Human rights and the Administration of Justice, at the University’s Mandeville campus from February 22 to 23.
The announcement was made this morning (February 10) at a press briefing at the Ministry’s Oxford Road offices. In addressing the gathering, Consultant on Justice Reform in the Ministry, Canute Brown said the event would seek to broaden the discussions, thus moving away from state only forums. “There is the need to broaden the Ministry of Security’s discussions on human rights. That’s the reason for the symposium, we will be having a feast of ideas and where people will come and air their views,” he stated.
The symposium will be held under the theme ‘Justice, Truth and Accountability’ and will include presentations on several issues such as: HIV/AIDS, Children’s Rights Protection, Religious Tolerance and the right to worship freely, terrorism and religion, protecting the environment, and the criminal justice system.
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Justice Ministry.2 Mr. Brown said it was hoped that the event would provide Jamaicans with a clearer insight into their rights as citizens and the role of the state in protecting these rights. “Out of it we hope that more Jamaicans would be left with an understanding of the real purpose of human rights and how we can define and elaborate fully on those rights and how as a state we endeavour to ensure the protection of those rights,” he explained. Mr. Brown further said that the Ministry would play a minimal role in the presentations at the event and would instead seek to facilitate discussions on human rights over the two-day event. Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Carol Palmer pointed out that the Ministry was not satisfied that the public had a full grasp of the finer details of human rights, and it was due to this why the symposium was necessary. She added that the constant calls for justice by citizens during protests on television was evident of the lack of understanding by citizens of the Ministry’s role and responsibilities and thus the need for the symposium. “It’s a way of planning for our people. We are saying come let us talk, as we go forward in partnership. We are all responsible for human rights,” she emphasised. Daniel Fider, Vice-President of the NCU said his institution welcomed the opportunity to host the symposium. “We welcome opportunities which allow people to express their views on human rights and allow the church to be apart of the discussions,” he said. He further expressed the hope that students would not only attend the discussions but would also take back what they had learnt to their respective communities and schools.
“Hopefully students will take back the discussions on human rights since they are reflective of how the wider society is thinking,” the Vice-President implored. Some 26 schools and institutions will participate in the event which will also be attended by various non -governmental groups such as the Combined Disabilities Association and the Child Development Agency (CDA).
Keynote speakers at the event included Religious Liberty Consultant, Dr. Jonathon Gallagher; Senior Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Executive Director of the National HIV/AIDS Programme, Dr. Yitades Gebre, and Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Alison Anderson.

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