JIS News

A wide cross section of the Westmoreland community was introduced to the concept of Restorative Justice, when residents attended the first of two public Consultations held on Wednesday (October 22), in that parish.
The consultation, which forms part of a series being held across the island took place at the Travellers Beach Resort, in the Negril area.
Director of Inspection and Monitoring in the Ministry of Justice, Vaughn Graham, explained to the attendees that the series of public consultations is aimed at informing the upcoming policy document that will be sanctioned by Cabinet. He said that the development of the policy has been a work in progress since 2004, when the Ministry was mandated by Cabinet to spearhead the development of a National Restorative Justice policy.
He pointed out that the development of the policy document is being done by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as the Canadian government.
“This policy is intended to guide the restorative justice programmes or activities wherever they are desired. So these can be in schools, these can be in churches, these can be in the very communities where you are from,” he said.
“So what you will find is that this policy will not and should not contain anything that is not sanctioned, or anything that communities do not believe in, because it is a policy that should reflect the Jamaican experience and the Jamaican spirit,” he added.
He explained that a Restorative Justice Task Force was contracted to do a preliminary report, which has been submitted. That report advises that the Jamaican society is ready for the practice of Restorative Justice, a practice which is nationally accepted in Canada.
He emphasised that all contributions at the public consultations will be incorporated in the final policy document.
Mr. Graham cautioned however, that the introduction of restorative justice in Jamaica will demand a culture shift, from violence and crime towards community reconciliation and empowerment. He added that restorative justice seeks to repair the harm done when a crime is committed, by holding the wrongdoer responsible for his or her action.