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JIS News

A restorative justice policy will be developed for Jamaica during the course of the new financial year, which begins in April and will be presented to Cabinet for approval.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, speaking at a press conference held recently at the Ministry to launch the second annual Restorative Justice Week, said the move is in keeping with the Justice Reform Programme.
In addition, she said that Justices of the Peace (JPs) and other community leaders will be trained to operate community justice tribunals, which will reduce the number of cases that are normally handled by the courts. She informed that the JPs, as well as teachers and other persons of authority within the community, will receive training at the Justice Training Institute, to equip them with the skills to sit on these tribunals. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, who was also present at the press conference, said that the training will commence in March and the first tribunal established by June.
She informed that the Ministry, through its Peace and Justice Centres, has already trained a number of persons across the island to be mediators. “We have a mediation service both providing support in the communities as well as to do court directing mediation,” she stated.
Restorative Justice Week is being observed from February 2 to 8 under the theme: ‘Restorative Justice Towards Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation’. The week of observance is to promote the philosophy of restorative justice as a humane and holistic approach to conflict resolution.
Activities got underway on the weekend with church services and will continue today and Tuesday with youth victims of crime counselling retreats at Somerset Falls in Portland; Serenity Park in St. Catherine; and at Fish World and Nationals Trails in Westmorland.
The week of observance, which coincides with Peace Month, will culminate with a two-day international conference from Thursday to Friday at the Hilton Kingston hotel.
The Victim Support Unit, Justice Training Institute, the Child Development Agency and the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), are assisting the Justice Ministry in this initiative. Support is also being provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).