Recent developments over the past 24 hours have once again fuelled a national discussion on the justice system.I assure you that this Government views justice as a priority.
We are even more determined to fix the ailing system with a sense of urgency.
We know that there is no quick fix for the justice system. However, we have picked some low hanging fruits which we think will go a far way in improving access to justice and making the system more effective and efficient.
We have installed video-link technology in two of our courts – the Half-Way- Tree and Supreme Courts to facilitate witnesses who cannot be physically present in the court room for one reason or another. Before the end of the fiscal year, installation will commence in nineteen (19) additional court rooms.
Three mobile units are equipped to facilitate witnesses giving evidence remotely. The Ministry of Justice is far advanced in procuring another 22 mobile units before the end of the fiscal year. These mobile units are used across the country to record the evidence of witnesses.
Digital audio recording equipment has been installed in some court rooms; 71 additional court rooms and seven hearing rooms will also be outfitted.
Contracts valued at more than $54M will be signed shortly for infrastructural works at the Sutton Street Parish Court and to enhance security at the Supreme Court. The registry at the Supreme Court will also be outfitted with a modern file folder system.
Other courts that have benefitted or are in the process of benefitting from infrastructural works include:
Corporate Area Civil Court
Corporate Area Criminal Court
The following RMCs – Black River, Balaclava, Sandy Bay, May Pen and Westmoreland.
The preparatory work is on-going for the implementation of a new case management system which will, among other things, digitize the records of the courts and bring about an automated system from entry into the court system until the disposition of the cases.
Our citizens would also like to know that a modern automated jury management system will be piloted before the end of 2016. This system will manage electronically the selection of and payment to jurors.
I urge you to become part of the change in the justice system. Leaders in communities across Jamaica must see themselves as part of the solution.
As Minister of Justice, I feel that I am in a race against time to transform a system that has been largely neglected for several decades.
The urgent and unyielding cry for justice in this country demands a response that is immediate.We will not let you down.