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Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said that the human rights of all Jamaicans must be protected, but that the protection of the rights of children is paramount. She was speaking to government lawyers assigned to the Attorney General’s Chambers at their annual staff retreat held in Ocho Rios on the weekend.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said Jamaica had achieved success in the protection of the rights of children through a number of initiatives including the strengthening of institutional arrangements for state run facilities, the promulgation of the Child Care and Protection Act and the appointment of a Children’s Advocate.
She voiced strong objections to the number of children who are being murdered and said the government would provide the resources to ensure that the security forces could put an end to the problem.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller also indicated her total support for the reform of the Justice System which was announced following the Cabinet retreat earlier this year. She said justice should be administered more quickly in Jamaica so that aggrieved persons can have more faith in the system. She said this could possibly lead to a reduction in reprisal killings and other activities as persons would be more assured that justice will be done.
She expressed confidence in the ability of the justice system to adjudicate accusations of human rights violations and assess claims. She asked the attorneys to join her in a pledge to advance the human rights and individual liberties of Jamaicans by ensuring that appropriate actions are taken whenever those rights are breached.
The Prime Minister commended the Attorney General’s Department for undertaking a training programme for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force as it relates to the legal implications of their actions and the need for adherence to the grounds under which they have the power to act.
“Too often the government is exposed to claims amounting to millions of dollars because of police excesses. Many of these excesses may not only be due to simply human temperament, but to a lack of appreciation and knowledge of the limits of power. I endorse your initiative and encourage you to press on in the interest of our nation,” the Prime Minister said.
She however observed that members of the public also need to know their rights and responsibilities under the law and said the Attorney General’s Department may consider joining forces with the Social Development Commission in bringing similar programmes to communities across the country.
Also in attendance at the retreat were Attorney General and Minister of Justice Hon. A.J. Nicholson and Solicitor General Mr. Michael Hylton.