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Members of the Public, and those in the Jamaican diaspora, can keep abreast of progress being made under the current Jamaican Justice System Reform (JJSR) Project through its recently launched website. The website contains detailed information on the terms, purpose and objectives of the project and will post the dates and times of the public consultations activities which are to be held island-wide over the next two months.
The website, www.moj.gov.jm/jamaicajusticesystemreform was created by the JJSR Project which is headed by a multi-sectoral Task Force charged with the mandate to explore reform options for both the criminal and civil jurisdictions of the country’s justice system. The reform process is to result in practical recommendations for action focussing on proposals received through written submissions and from discussions in public consultation meetings.
The Task Force is headed by noted sociologist and university professor, Dr. Barry Chevannes and has representatives from the private and public bar, human rights advocates, the trade union and the civil service.
The impact of the collaborative efforts between the Task Force and the JJSR Project Management Team has recently resulted in the establishment of four Regional Working Groups (RWGs), created to consult with local justice system stakeholders and to organize and convene one or more public consultation meetings within their particular regions. Mobilisation efforts in this regard have secured the support of the Social Development Commission (SDC), which has indicated its willingness to assist with facilitating these public meetings.
Each RWG will ensure that citizens, irrespective of socio-economic background and regardless of where they live, have a voice in determining what the transformed justice system in Jamaica will deliver, with a particular focus on making the system more customer-friendly. There has been a high degree of interest in the work of the JJSR indicating that Jamaicans are willing to participate in the reform project which carries the slogan “Together for Justice with Civil Participation.”
Following a recent meeting with stakeholders in St. Ann, the Hon. Radcliffe Walters, Custos of that parish, pledged the support of the citizens of the Northern Region in advancing the reform project.
“Jamaicans have always been concerned with the delays in the court system and unfortunately have been resorting to vigilante justice. I can say, confidently speaking on behalf of the people of St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland, that we want to see results at the end of this reform exercise. The people are crying out for improved service in the justice system and we in the northern regional working group will make every effort to assist in seeing to it that useful recommendations coming from residents in the parishes of the region will be brought to the table,” Custos Walters stated.
Meanwhile, the Task Force is asking citizens not to wait on the public meetings, but to use the various other channels set up by the JJSR Task Force to make their contribution by mail, email or telephone. A listing of members of both the national Task Force as well as the Regional Working Groups can be found on the website.