Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, said that the Ministry is in the process of reforming the justice system in an effort to provide Jamaicans with greater access to justice.
“The reform process requires a collaborative approach to enable the justice system to have a significant role in not only responding to, but helping to shape the requisite transformative changes,” he stated in a speech read by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Robert Rainford, at a civic ceremony held yesterday (February 8) at Emancipation Square, St. Catherine.
Minister Golding said that restorative justice is a key part of the reform, as it provides a new, holistic approach to resolving conflict.
He argued that the restorative justice approach can fill gaps that have been created, due to the court’s inability to provide solutions to disputes. This, he said, is due to the nature of the court proceedings, which are centred on the determination of one party as the wrongdoer and the other as the righteous.
With restorative justice, Senator Golding said, “the real victim, the offender, and the local community are all seen as principal stakeholders and are involved in deciding what it will take to ‘make it right."
Restorative justice is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of victims, offenders, as well as the involved community, rather than on satisfying legal principles or punishing the offender.
Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, to repair the harm they have done.
The civic ceremony was part of activities by the Justice Ministry to mark Restorative Justice Week from February 5 to 11 and to commemorate Jamaica’s 50th year of Independence this year.
It was preceded by a ‘Justice Run’ from Stony Gut, St. Thomas to the old capital, which was a re-enactment of the journey taken by National Hero, Paul Bogle in 1865, to register his dissatisfaction over poor working conditions and injustices in the legal system.
By Toni-Ann Russell, JIS PRO