The opening of restorative justice centres in four pilot project communities, where the initiative was started three years ago, will highlight activities marking Restorative Justice Week, January 29 to February 4.
Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, said the centres will be opened at Tower Hill, Kingston; Spanish Town, St. Catherine; May Pen, Clarendon; and Granville, St. James. These communities were selected for the pilot phase, when the initiative was launched in 2009.
Senator Golding was speaking at the Manchester Lay Magistrates Association’s half-yearly meeting, at the Golf View Hotel, Mandeville, on Thursday (January 19).
Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Robert Rainford, advised the meeting of plans to expand the programme into other communities and to, correspondingly, open other centres. He said, however, that the details were still being developed.
Activities for Restorative Justice Week are being held under the theme: ‘One People, One Spirit, One Justice’, and will coincide with the year-long calendar of events marking Jamaica’s 50th Independence anniversary.
Scheduled events include: a Church Service; essay and poster competitions; exhibitions at the Jamaica Library Service and Supreme Court; and a justice run between Stony Gut, St. Thomas, and Spanish Town, St. Catherine, the route traversed by National Hero, Paul Bogle, in 1865.
The week will also feature a public lecture and fairs at Emancipation Park, Kingston, and the Montego Bay Civic Centre. It will conclude on February 4, with a gala concert at Emancipation Park.
Senator Golding said Restorative Justice Week is intended to heighten public awareness and understanding of the roles and functions of the Justice Ministry; showcase its progress over the last 50 years; increase public awareness of restorative justice practices and processes; sensitize the public to Jamaica’s justice system, past, present and the future; and provide citizens with information about their rights, responsibilities and available justice services.
The concept is aimed at facilitating dialogue between parties impacted by the offences committed, in order to assist them in resolving the issues arising and, in the process, minimize the possibility of negative implications in the future.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter