JIS News

Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, has said that the Government considers restorative justice as the most appropriate concept to complement and support the country’s traditional justice system. She was speaking on (February 7), at the opening of the second annual Restorative Justice International Conference, being held at the Hilton Hotel in Kingston from February 7 to 8.
“The Jamaican government, in particular the Ministry of Justice, is committed to modernising and transforming the nation’s justice system over the next 10 years, and the implementation of restorative justice is a vital component of our justice system reform programme,” Senator Lightbourne pointed out.
She added that by 2017, the Ministry intends to ensure that the country’s justice system is timely, efficient, cost-effective and easily accessible to every Jamaican, noting that the government has always been at the forefront of advocacy for non-partisan justice reform.
The Attorney General stressed that the administration would be promoting the implementation of restorative justice in the society at large and the justice system, in particular.
Senator Lightbourne explained that restorative justice seeks to repair the harm done by criminal act or serious anti-social behaviour, to bring about the psychological healing of the victim in such a way that there is acceptance and closure from the experience.
“The offender, the guilty party, through meetings arranged with the victim and community, admits his wrongdoing, takes personal responsibility for the hurt and damage done to both the victim and the community, apologizes and is restored to his or her law abiding community,” Senator Lightbourne said.
“Simultaneously, the damage caused to the community and or its members and the relationships that were broken by the commission of the offence, is restored,” she added.
Restorative justice, the Attorney General said, “is about the individuals involved, victim and offender coming to the table in a spirit of reconciliation, taking responsibility for their own actions and finding their own solutions to repair the damage and hurt that has been caused.”
Senator Lightbourne emphasised that restorative justice is suited for Jamaica, as it will “help reduce the case load in the courts,” in areas such as domestic disputes.
Meanwhile, Novar McDonald, Chairman of Dispute Resolution Foundation said his organisation is pleased to be a part of a conference of this nature.”Restorative Justice Week helps us to focus on this need to change lenses and enhance the understanding of policy makers, private sector, justice system and the citizens. This discussion creates an opportunity to develop a policy of increased engagement of partners, effective funding of this expanded system of justice and ensuring standards and accountability,” Mr. McDonald said.
The conference is part of activities to observe Restorative Justice Week from February 3 to 9, and is being held under the theme: ‘Towards forgiveness, healing and reconciliation’.