Restorative Justice Bill for Cabinet Tomorrow

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (left), greets Minister of Justice, Senator, the Hon. Mark Golding, on arrival at the Portmore Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Saturday ( January 30), for the Restorative Justice Week church service. Also pictured (left, background) is State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Member of Parliament for St. Catherine East Central, Hon. Arnaldo Brown.

Story Highlights

  • Legislation to implement restorative justice as part of the formal court system is to go before Cabinet tomorrow (Feb. 1), for approval for tabling in Parliament.
  • The Justice Minister, in the meantime, is urging Jamaica’s pastors and church leaders to become fully engaged with the programme.
  • Restorative Justice Week is being observed from January 30 to February 5 under the theme: ‘Restorative Justice and our Social Responsibility’

Legislation to implement restorative justice as part of the formal court system is to go before Cabinet tomorrow (Feb. 1), for approval for tabling in Parliament.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, who made the disclosure at the Restorative Justice Week church service at the Portmore Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Saturday (Jan. 30),  said the legislation passed through a legislative committee of Cabinet last week.

He said the bill will allow for restorative justice to be recognised as an available option in appropriate cases in the formal justice system.

He argued that if particular cases can be resolved outside of the courtroom, through the restorative justice process, this will not only result in the wrongdoer not having a criminal record, but also reduce the backlog of cases in the courts.

“It also means that the communities and the people involved will benefit from a sustainable form of justice that will really heal the wrong, focus on the victim’s needs and allow them to move on with their lives,” he said.

Restorative justice seeks to rehabilitate offenders through positive engagement with victims and reintegration within the community.

The programme is being piloted in several communities across the island under the Citizens Justice and Security Programme (CSJP), which is funded largely through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Canadian and United Kingdom governments.

The programme has seen the establishment of Restorative Justice Centres in several communities island-wide, as well as in the training and certification of some 200 individuals as restorative justice practitioners.

Senator Golding said it is the success of the pilot that has encouraged the Government to make it a national programme.

The Justice Minister, in the meantime, is urging Jamaica’s pastors and church leaders to become fully engaged with the programme.

He informed that 15 ministers of religions are already certified as practitioners. “We encourage more and more (ministers) to get involved and more Christians and leaders in the church (as well), so they can bring the benefits of this programme to all communities,” he said.

Senator Golding noted that the principles of restorative justice are consistent with Christian teachings, such as contrition, mercy, forgiveness and redemption.

“We, as a society, have a problem when it comes to conflict and conflict resolution…so restorative justice is a balm that will soothe some of those aspects…of our culture that we need to modify to move to a better place,” he said.

Restorative Justice Week is being observed from January 30 to February 5 under the theme: ‘Restorative Justice and our Social Responsibility’

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