Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding says finding alternative ways of resolving small disputes, using the restorative justice approach, can prevent needless altercations, while ensuring a more peaceful and harmonious society.
“I think Jamaica needs an approach like (restorative justice) for dealing with some of the minor things that happen from day-to-day around us, because we have seen…where what starts as something relatively trivial, can escalate into something serious and negative for the community. Restorative justice is an approach which really tries to avoid that happening,” he said.
He was speaking at the opening of the August Town Restorative Justice Centre Wednesday, February 6, at the University of the West Indies Mona Source in Bryce Hill.
Restorative justice is a process whereby all the parties with a stake in a particular dispute that has taken place, come together to resolve, collectively, how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future.
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According to Minister Golding, restorative justice, which is based on principles of love and unity, is the approach needed to deal with many of the problems in communities and the society as a whole.
He said that while some crimes have to be dealt with through the court system, others can be addressed “in a more holistic approach to justice… (that) can avoid some of the pitfalls and negative consequences of treating with those matters in the traditional way through the court system”.
“Restorative justice focuses on how do we right the wrong that has occurred in a way that restores the relationship between the parties to the dispute…and avoid…a series of events, which can result in mayhem and carnage and death,” he said.
The Minister stated that since February of last year, the administration has been rolling out the restorative justice programme, “as an important element in the Ministry’s quest and drive to improve the justice system in Jamaica and access to justice for all citizens.”
“I see this as really an important thrust towards deepening and strengthening access to justice in Jamaica and bringing a new meaning to justice in Jamaica,” he said.
The August Town Restorative Justice Centre is the seventh facility being launched in the 10 pilot communities selected for the implementation of the Restorative Justice programme.
The Minister informed that in due course, it will be a facility where persons in the community are trained in restorative justice and where cases will be disposed of and dealt with through restorative justice procedures.
Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Andrew, Andre Hylton and Custos of St. Andrew, Hon. Marigold Harding also welcomed the move.
The opening of the facility formed part of activities to mark Restorative Justice Week, which is being observed from February 3 to 9.