The parish of Kingston has 53 more Justices of the Peace (JPs), who were sworn in on April 30.
The ceremony was held at the Leslie Ridout Hall, Kingston Bookshop Limited, in downtown Kingston, and presided over by Custos of Kingston, Hon. Steadman Fuller.
In his charge to the new JPs, the Custos urged them to hold fast to the principles of integrity and honesty in carrying out their tasks, adding that their role is not only to sign documents.
“We are determined to move the role of Justices of the Peace beyond that of signing documents. I firmly believe that we can assist in the transformation of the justice system that we have. For example, we play our roles as mediators in the communities in which we live and work; volunteer our service in the courts; and assist the critical area of visitation in lockups,” he said.
The Custos encouraged them to be standard bearers in their communities, adding that his intention is to have JPs in Kingston making a significant contribution in the areas in which they have been trained.
He informed that currently, Justices of the Peace are being trained to serve more effectively in the Lay Magistrate’s Court.
“The long awaited roll out of the new curriculum for Lay Magistrates was finally approved and the specialised training that is required to serve in this area commenced recently, so we are serious about those we have pledged to serve,” the Custos said.
Mr. Fuller noted that the group represented one of the largest cohort of new JPs to be sworn in, and that they were drawn from many areas of national life – business, civil service, law, education, social work, religion, media, administrators and medicine.
He emphasised that the support and involvement of all citizens are needed for the dedicated Justices of the Peace to effectively fulfil the purpose for which they are being commissioned.
Meanwhile, Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, said the JPs are expected to discharge very important duties, “in pursuit of the just society for which we all crave.”
“You have increased responsibilities, are expected to exhibit behaviour which members of your communities can emulate and with all this, you have your everyday lives to live. It’s no small task that you have taken unto yourselves and you must recognize this,” she reminded them.
Mrs. Gordon Harrison said three critical words are associated with Justices of the Peace – commitment, service and integrity.
“Expectation is very high and we don’t want to be disappointed. We at the Office of the Children’s Advocate look forward to working with you,” she added.
With the new members in place, there are now 700 Justices of the Peace serving the parish of Kingston.
Training was carried out over three to six weeks by Judge, Sonia Bertram Linton, Q.C., in conjunction with the Justice Training Institute.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter