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Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, has said that the criminal justice system has a key role to play in restoring harmony and peace to the Jamaican society.
“There can be no peace without justice,” said Senator Lightbourne in her presentation at Third Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference held recently at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, where she spoke at a workshop themed: ‘Crime and Justice: Partnerships for Harmony and Peace.’
She said that arising from the Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force report, the Government has embarked on a comprehensive programme to modernize the justice system to make it more efficient, assessable, accountable, and able to deliver timely results in a cost effective manner.
According to the Justice Minister, an efficient and effective justice system is not only a crucial component in the fight against crime, but is an absolute necessity for a stable and orderly society.
But even as emphasis is placed on enforcement of the law, providing penalties for breaches, and the rehabilitation of offenders, Senator Lightbourne said: “If we are to stop the criminals and end the social behaviour that we are experiencing, then we as a society, have to focus on tackling the complex, socio-economic issues that underpin them.”
She said that along with crime reduction initiatives, and ongoing improvements to the criminal justice system, there is need for far-reaching social interventions, the upgrading of social services, and change in cultural and behavioural attitudes, in order to achieve true harmony and peace.
In addition, she said that there needs to be a change in public values and attitudes. “The framework to achieving this is ensuring that all the nation’s children get the most out of the education system. Fathers must become more involved in the lives of their children; more use must be made of the restorative justice systems in dispensing punishment; (and) consideration must be given to rehabilitation and redemption. That is how (we) are going to provide hope and opportunity for all our people and achieve our true potential as a nation,” the Justice Minister stated.
She assured the members of the Diaspora that the Government, the security forces, and all law-abiding citizens, are committed to tackling the challenges posed by crime.
She commended their patriotism and acknowledgement that “there is strength in unity”, noting that “we Jamaicans, wherever we find ourselves, must all work together for the betterment of our country.”
The two-day conference was held under the theme: ‘A Borderless Partnership for Development’.