JIS News

Chief Justice, Mrs. Zaila McCalla, has emphasised that the justice system, should also operate to encourage the process of healing the wounds of victims of crime.
“An avenue must be provided for victims of these crimes to express themselves and to get answers to some of the most haunting questions – why, why my family? Why did you do this to me? These are questions that must be answered,” Mrs. McCalla said.
The Chief Justice was speaking at the first public consultation on a draft policy on Restorative Justice, held yesterday (August 12), at the Girl Guides Headquarters in Kingston.
Mrs. McCalla said that compounding the problem, is the fact that a criminal act is described as an act against the State and not an act against an individual or a community.
“Restorative Justice seeks to bridge the gap between the offender and victim. By recognising and attending to the needs of victims, emphasis will be placed on the realisation that crimes or violations are committed against real individuals, who have feelings,” she said.
The Chief Justice also pointed out that the justice system could be significantly enhanced by principles and practices of justice, that not only hold offenders accountable, but also facilitate reparative agreements and self redemption.
Mrs. McCalla said she hoped that the series of public consultations, would be productive and that Restorative Justice would become firmly embedded in the country’s justice system and enhance the administration of justice.
Meanwhile, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, noted that Restorative Justice is about the victim and the offender coming together, “in a spirit of reconciliation, taking responsibilities for their own actions and finding their own solutions for repairing the damage.”
“In such a setting, the victim will have a strong voice in the proceedings. One of the commitments of this Government, is to establish community tribunals and part of the Restorative Justice programme, is the establishment of these community tribunals, where the community will come together to deal with the crime, the hurt, the wrong and the harm that has been done,” Senator Lightbourne said.
In addition, Senator Lightbourne pointed out that Restorative Justice would help to reduce the work load of the courts.
“Too many of these cases make a demand on our courts and they arise from disputes that could have been resolved had we had a culture of discussion, listening, positive values and respect. If the courts are freed up to take on the more serious cases, then the cases can be tried more quickly and that is also helping in the fight against crime,” she explained.
The 20 public consultations are being funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The series will continue in Montego Bay, St. James, on August 19, at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, and on August 20, at the St. John’s Methodist Community Action Centre in Granville, St. James.