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The Ministry of Justice will, in the coming weeks, begin a series of public discussions on the Victims’ Charter, which provides policies and programmes to support victims of crimes.
“Within weeks, we will embark on a series of consultation exercises with the public as together we examine the Victims’ Charter that has been developed by the Ministry of Justice,” Attorney General Senator A.J Nicholson said yesterday (May 25), as he addressed the opening of the third annual Caribbean Conference on Dispute Resolution at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay.
Senator Nicholson, who is also Justice Minister, explained that the establishment of the facility was not to avenge wrongs, but to ensure that victims of crimes, especially victims of child abuse and sexual offences, were treated with dignity, respect and fairness.
As such, the charter would “seek to enjoin all agencies that were required to interact with victims” and these include hospitals, schools, the church and the media.
According to the Justice Minister, “our jurisprudence has developed in such a way that it has come to be understood that the victim is left to seek his own remedy for the wrong that he has suffered, even after discharging his obligations to the state in the prosecution of a crime.”
“Too often, institutional secondary victimization results in denial of human rights to persons, who fall within vulnerable groups such as victims of child abuse and sexual offences,” he added.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the United Nations 1985 Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for victims of crime and abuse of power, to which Jamaica subscribes, Senator Nicholson said that the government has given statutory recognition to the Victim Support Unit and was moving to realistically address the concerns of victims and the position they must assume in the proper administration of justice.
He noted further, that legislation was being drafted to provide “enhanced technological aids to victims of crime, who have to testify in criminal proceedings and who are children or others that fall within vulnerable groups.”
He commended the Dispute Resolution Foundation and the Mona School of Business for spearheading the conference, noting that, it could not have come at a more opportune time. “The rapid changes in the nature and complexity of crimes, the re-alignment of economic, social and cultural forces in the global space require continuous review of our system and our processes of social re-engineering,” he pointed out.
The four-day conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘Matching the process to the problem: Dispute resolution options for the Caribbean’, seeks to promote mediation, restorative justice and dialogue as the best approaches to resolving disputes within communities.
The event brings together business leaders, managers, human resource personnel, court administrators, judges, attorneys, the police, community activists, social workers, youth leaders, policymakers and practitioners from across the region, to share knowledge, skills and experiences in enhancing mediation and resolving conflicts.