The Government will now have the resources to improve the service delivery and management capacity of justice sector institutions, following the launch of the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Programme.
This programme seeks to reform Jamaica’s justice system, making it more available, accessible, accountable, flexible, fair and affordable in a timely, courteous, respectful and competent manner for all citizens.
Being implemented at a cost of CAN$17.8 million, the JUST programme was officially launched on December 8, during the inaugural meeting of the Justice Reform Consultative Committee (JRCC) at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.
The JRCC has the mandate to provide advice and recommendations to support the implementation of the justice system transformation initiatives.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, said the initiative is built on the principle of engendering a cultural and social change in Jamaica, based the cornerstone of justice and the rule of law.
“One of the prime areas of focus of the JUST programme will be to provide technical legal assistance to key justice institutions, including the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Court Management Service, the Judiciary, the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and the Legal Reform Department,” he explained.
The Minister further noted that another key area of focus will be to improve the capacity of Ministries, Departments and agencies to co-ordinate and streamline the process of developing legislation. It will also improve the capacity of citizens and civil society organisations to participate in justice reform and to promote public order.
“This programme is stemmed from a conviction that we can no longer neglect the long term issues that affect our society, particularly our justice system. Justice in Jamaica is not just about putting prisoners behind bars – that indeed is merely a band-aid on the fissures that hurt this country,” he argued.
The Minister said that instead, “we must boldly and nobly deal with the negative and stagnating issues…and change the way in which we do things, so that we can, once and for all, create a society in which all Jamaicans will want to live and raise their children and indeed can live and raise their children.”
Mr. Chuck said the JRCC meeting was a pivotal step in assuring that all sectors of Jamaica come together to discuss not only problems and obstacles but to meaningfully and collaboratively look at solutions.
The JUST programme is being implemented by a management team comprising representatives from the Justice Reform Implementation Unit in the Justice Ministry; Canada’s Department of Justice; Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and non-Governmental organisations (NGOs).
The consultative meeting involved representatives from: the Ministries of National Security, and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Bar Association, the Advocates Association, the European Union, the British High Commission; and the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Also present were representatives from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; Justice Reform Implementation Unit; the Planning Institute of Jamaica; the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce; Dispute Resolution Foundation; United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United States Agency for International Development(USAID); Jamaicans for Justice; the Norman Manley Law School; and Jamaica Council of Churches, among others.
The Government of Canada, through its Department of Justice and CIDA, has committed a total of CAN$18.5 millionfor the inception and pre-phase (which began in 2007) and the implementation stage of the programme.
Mr. Chuck thanked the Canadian Government for the contribution it has made to justice reform in Jamaica, “particularly in the development of the Jamaica Justice Reform Task Force and the Justice System Reform Policy Agenda Framework that have steered many of the initiatives under the JUST Programme.”
By Alecia Smith-Edwards