THE Ministry of Justice has partnered with the United Nations Population Fund to build the capacity of Parish Justice Centre (PJC) staff to better interact with and address the needs of gender-based violence (GBV) survivors who access justice services islandwide.
This partnership was forged through the European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative, which seeks to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It involves training and providing information to staff on how best to give advice and information to survivors accessing justice services in a safe space where they are protected, assured and empowered.
The implementation of the training programme will be led by the ministry for six months and commenced with engagement of staff from the ministry's St Andrew, St Thomas and Westmoreland justice centres as well as the May Pen Restorative Justice Centre.
Staff from the ministry's Justice Training Institute (JTI), Legal Services Unit and the Legal Aid Council also benefited from sensitivity training under the five-day programme from November 29 to December 3. A key outcome of the partnership is to equip staff from the JTI to deliver training sessions to the remaining staff of PJCs island wide.
Speaking at the opening session for the training on November 29, Acting Permanent Secretary at the Justice Ministry Grace Ann Stewart McFarlane noted that the ministry's partnership with the Spotlight Initiative is timely and underscored the importance of delivering quality justice services to all Jamaicans.
“We recognise that fulfilment of the commitment to deliver quality justice services hinges on continued training and capacity building efforts for staff, especially those who interact with the public,” she said.
She further highlighted that programmes such as restorative justice and victim services are designed to address the root causes of conflict as well as treat emotional scars from acts of violence, including domestic abuse.
“Restorative justice is a rehabilitative approach to case settlement which allows persons to work out underlying issues with the aim of lessening the prospects of recidivism while encouraging positive conflict resolution methods among Jamaicans. On the other hand, our Victim Services Division assists persons with managing emotional trauma through counselling and other interventions,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Head of Cooperation for the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Aniceto Rodriguez Ruiz, emphasised the need for justice practitioners to be cognisant of the needs of women affected by gender-based violence and reinforced, “the European Union's commitment to support initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality”.
Furthermore, Reproductive Health and Rights Programme Analyst of the UNFPA Regional Office, Davina Gayle-Williams, highlighted the need for the provision of “professional, available, readily accessible and quality essential service to effectively respond to their cases in a sensitive and dignified manner”.
Earlier this year, the ministry collaborated with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport to sensitise more than 1,000 Justices of the Peace on domestic and gender-based violence. They were urged to become active players in the reduction of domestic violence in Jamaica.