Fire razes building that houses Coroner’s, Family courts

Fire causes setback for Coroner’s, Family courts

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

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SEVERE backlogs at the Coroner’s and Family courts have been further compounded after a massive fire yesterday razed the four-storey building on Duke Street, downtown Kingston, that houses both halls of justice.


"This will mean a delay in a number of court cases in the Corporate Area," Carol Palmer, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday as firefighters worked feverishly to extinguish the blaze — which began on the top floor and quickly spread to the third and second floors destroying piles of files.


"This is a serious problem to the administration of justice and to the ability of persons to have access to justice. This is major problem in an underresourced justice system and a country going through fiscal constraints," Palmer added.


She said plans to relocate the Coroner’s Court to Hagley Park Road will have to be fast-tracked.


"The Coroner’s Court is suppose to be relocated to a building on Hagley Park Road and the Urban Development Corporation is now pushing to assist us with this. Now we will have to move for emergency procurement for the relocation to take place," said Palmer.


Yesterday, firefighters said they were alerted to the fire approximately 5:00 pm by people who saw smoking billowing from the building.


Emilio Ebanks, public relations director at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, said approximately five units responded to the blaze. However, by the time the units arrived on the scene, piles of documents were already burnt to ash.


The incident drew scores of onlookers to the area and also caused a halt to activities on Duke Street as police cordoned off the area to keep members of the public at a safe distance.


The cause of the blaze was not ascertained up until press time last night.


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