New justice centre opens in St Elizabeth

Saturday, July 13, 2019

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A new justice centre was Thursday officially opened on Coke Drive in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth by Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck.

The facility was funded as part of an agreement between the Government and the European Union (EU), and is intended to help clear backlogs and give the people in the parish increased access to justice services.

The centre, which was constructed in under five months, is the sixth parish justice centre currently in operation islandwide.

It is equipped to handle matters related to child diversion and restorative justice, as well as dispute resolution, among other justice-related issues. Additionally, the facility will be a point of contact for the Custos of St Elizabeth and the justices of the peace. It also houses a mobile legal aid clinic.

In his address, the minister pointed out that the Government intends to open 14 parish justice centres.

“We are hoping that all 14 will be in operation before March of next year,” said Minister Chuck.

“Also, we are hoping the additional family courts will at least be started and some opened, because these are targets we have to achieve – 14 justice centres and an additional four family courts,” he added.

Chuck also noted that there are plans to further expand the new St Elizabeth Justice Centre.

He has, meanwhile, urged people in the parish to take advantage of the justice services that the centre will provide, in order “to get information as to how they can go to court, what matters are available in the court system, how they can contact a justice of the peace and how they can find a lawyer”.

Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska explained that one of the first points of the Jamaica Justice Sector Reform Programme agreement, which the EU signed with the Government in 2016, is to improve efficiency and accountability in the nation's justice system through improvements in backlog reduction.

She said the St Elizabeth Justice Centre will contribute to the courts achieving this goal.

“To date, the Government of Jamaica has either achieved or exceeded all its indicators under the budget support programme and has received disbursement of €13 million of an expected €22 million, with the remainder due in 2020,” she stated.

“It is our hope that these changes will deepen the confidence of Jamaicans in the justice system,” she added.

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