Justice Reform Programme Making Significant Strides

Photo: Sharon Earle Custos of St. James, Hon Ewen Corrodus (left), presents newly installed Justice of the Peace for St James, Shernett Annon Rose with her instrument of office. Mrs. Rose was among 26 Justices of the Peace who were installed at a ceremony held on December 3, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James.

Story Highlights

  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer says that the changes being made to the country’s Justice Sector will bring greater equity and efficiency to the delivery of justice, through Jamaica’s courts.
  • Mrs. Palmer who was delivering the keynote address at the installation ceremony for 26 new Justices of the Peace (JPs) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St. James on December 3, said the reforms since 2006 have progressed significantly and are unprecedented.
  • She pointed out that Jamaica should be proud of its achievements which have surpassed those of other countries over a similar period.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer says that the changes being made to the country’s Justice Sector will bring greater equity and efficiency to the delivery of justice, through Jamaica’s courts.

Mrs. Palmer who was delivering the keynote address at the installation ceremony for 26 new Justices of the Peace (JPs) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St. James on December 3, said the reforms since 2006 have progressed significantly and are unprecedented.

She pointed out that Jamaica should be proud of its achievements which have surpassed those of other countries over a similar period.

Reforms, with support from the Canadian Government’s Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation programme, has looked at overhauling legislation, institutions and society.

Among the pieces of legislation passed include the Jury Amendment Bill, which when made into law, will largely enhance the dispensing of justice in the circuit court.

The Bill will also provide for: the production of an expanded list of potential jurors from a combination of the voters’ list and the list of persons with Tax Registration Numbers (TRN) issued under the Revenue Administration Act; and an array of seven jurors for all jury trials other than for treason or murder where (on conviction) the death penalty may be imposed.

“(Civil Servants) like me who were exempt from doing jury duty because I am a servant of the Crown, am no longer exempt from being called to jury duty, and so we will all have to get with it and do our civic duty,” the Permanent Secretary stated.

Among the other reforms, which Mrs Palmer said were making their way into law was the increase of jury stipend from $500 to $2,000 per day.

The penalty for refusing to do jury duty is to be increased; and the hours for which jury summons can be served are to be extended.

Meanwhile, Mrs Palmer is calling on the Justices of the Peace to make their voices heard in the public domain and make them known in their respective communities.

“This is your start to do something new if you have not done something in the Justice Sector before. I want to say to you, make your community know you. We tend to feel that people should make it their business to come and know us. But no, you have sworn to serve and therefore you must make yourself (available) to serve,” she said.

Custos of St James, Hon Ewen Corrodus commended the newly appointed JPs, for the enthusiasm with which they have embraced the call to a new level of service to their country, and the dedication demonstrated during training.

He however urged them to take their role seriously, as their role was “not only to sign documents and issue recommendations.”

He also stressed that it was important for them to show up for court whenever they are rostered to do so.

“You are the leaders and role models of our society and you cannot afford to let us down. Your community is counting on you. Your parish is counting on you.  Your country is counting on you, and I know I can count on you,” Mr. Corrodus said.

For her part, President of the St James Chapter of the National Lay Magistrates Association, Claudette Bryan, reminded the Justices of the Peace that their office was not a status symbol, but was to be regarded as an opportunity to impact the lives of people in their communities.

“Your seal must be used and not locked away in a vault, as I hear is a common thing for many of us. If your seal is locked away in a vault, it means you do not need it or have no use for it. Return it to Custos Corrodus,” she told them.

 

JIS Social