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Role of JPs to be strengthened – Chuck

Sunday, October 08, 2017

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MANDEVILLE, Jamaica (JIS) — As part of the ongoing justice reform initiatives as well as the changing demands of the communities within which Justices of the Peace (JPs) serve, Cabinet has given approval for the enactment of legislation to strengthen their role.

This was noted by Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, when he delivered the keynote address at the commissioning of 38 new JPs at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester, on Friday.

Chuck pointed out that the minimum age limit for entry into the service of a JP has been lowered from 25 to 23, and the upper limit has been totally removed from 70, as long as persons are still energetic, strong and capable of doing the job effectively.

The minister further outlined some of the proposed changes to the new Act. “One of the duties that we intend to impose on all JPs is that at the end of every year, he or she must send in a one-page report,” he said.

“It should include your email address, telephone number, whether you are still in the island and any concerns, plus your activities for the year,” he outlined.

The proposed Act will be laid in the House of Representatives on October 10 and it will be sent to each custos and be uploaded to the ministry's website, the minister told the JPs. He urged them to read it carefully.

Chuck also called on JPs to review the changes, make recommendations where they see fit and help to create the laws by which they are governed.

“All JPs will now be JPs of Jamaica. However, depending on where you live or work, you can use that address to say in which parish you pay allegiance and to which Custos. For example, if you live in Clarendon and work in Manchester, but want to pay allegiance to the Custos in Manchester, you would give your business address, but if you want to give allegiance to the Custos of Clarendon, you would give your home address,” the minister explained.

For JPs who serve as Lay Magistrates, they must live in the parish where they serve, in accordance with the Judicature Act. Petty Sessions court will now become Lay Magistrates' court in the new Act.

The minister also said that every year there will be at least one training activity for JPs in each parish and everyone should attend at least one. There will also be additional training in mediation and restorative justice.

He reminded the new JPs of the challenges and importance of their function. “You must be a Justice of the Peace when there is a dispute or conflict, and you need to intervene to settle it fairly, equitably and reasonably. Your role must be one of a courageous, brave individual who is proactive in being a peacemaker in your community,” Chuck told the new JPs.

The minister exhorted the JPs to stand for what is right in their districts, neighbourhoods, parishes and communities, rather than turn a blind eye, emphasizing that they must be the eyes and ears to such issues as child abuse, domestic violence, human rights/trafficking, indiscipline and lawlessness that affect the country.

“When you see indiscipline on the roads and in our towns, you must say to yourselves, we have to find a way to solve them. It has to start in your community where you send the right signal that decency and calm has to be restored to Jamaica,” Chuck said.

The minister encouraged them to develop a zero tolerance for everything that is wrong.




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