To strengthen the promotion of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practices among communities in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed among the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) and several community-based organisations (CBOs) in the parish.
The MoU, which was signed on April 12, during a ceremony at the Spanish Town Peace and Justice Centre, seeks to expand a framework of co-operation among the DRF and the CBOs with the specific objective to promote ADR approaches in the settlement of disputes in the home, and at the community level.
Representatives from the four targeted organisations – the Spanish Town Crime Prevention Committee; Gravel Heights Citizens Association; March Pen Benevolent Society; and Homestead Citizens for Action – signed the agreement.
Member of Parliament for St. Catherine Eastern, Denise Daley, who was the guest speaker at the event, said the MoU signing was a worthwhile gesture that signaled the commitment by the citizens, “that they are ready for that needed change."
She lauded the various communities involved in the project, “that have taken the giant step to become a part of the solution to a problem facing not only their individual communities, but Jamaica”.
“It is commendable that the various CBOs are in partnership with the DRF to promote alternative dispute resolution practices,” she said, adding that each participating organisation “will touch the life of, particularly the young people in Spanish Town."
Charge d’Affaires, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica, Helen Jenkinson, in her remarks, noted that applying ADR practices in solving disputes were very important.
“We thoroughly support (this initiative) at the EU. We think it is a very practical approach,” she added.
Member of Parliament for St. Catherine, South Central, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, said Spanish Town has suffered from crime and violence and social decay over the years, but there has been a noticeable reduction in crime through the efforts of the affected communities, the assistance of the DRF, and the efforts of a number of civic groups in the parish.
“Over the years, we have seen a marked improvement…we have seen a significant reduction in crime and violence. I believe it is not by chance, but because of the concerted efforts of a number of stakeholders,” he said.
The MoU falls under the EU/DRF’s ‘We Want Justice’ project, which aims to strengthen the capacity of public and private stakeholders, communities and civil society organisations to put structures in place for improved justice administration and the promotion of rights and democratic governance, through alternative dispute resolution options.
Under the agreement, the DRF commits to provide technical assistance and training; and Public Education and Promotional materials; while CBOs pledge to: participate in DRF training activities; promote the use of ADR in the community; and establish and maintain collaborative problem-solving partnerships for safer communities.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter