ST JAMES, Jamaica - The number of Justices of the Peace (JPs) serving the parish of Westmoreland has been increased with the commissioning of 29 persons into office on Thursday, September 21.
During the ceremony held at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall in Savanna-la-Mar, the newly sworn-in justices took their oaths of office, pledging to uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and integrity in executing their duties.
Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte, who delivered the keynote address, told the new JPs that there are significant responsibilities that come with the office, including the impending role of deciding officials in out-of-court bail matters.
"There is a new bail law to come and in that new law, the justice of the peace is designated a deciding official alongside the judge at all levels… as well as alongside high-ranking police officers for the grant of bail out of court,” she noted.
The Minister stressed the importance of maintaining high standards of ethical behaviour and judgement, and refraining from engaging in “what is wrong, unlawful, or unethical.”
"When tempted to do wrong, I've learned that there is always a window of escape that presents itself. I invite you to look for that window and [go] through it because if you miss it, or if you fail to use it, it may never appear again," she said.
Malahoo Forte urged them to always call on their training, seek advice when in doubt and to take the time to reflect on their decisions.
For his part, Custos of Westmoreland, Reverend Canon Hartley Perrin, noted that the role of a JP is not for the faint-hearted but for those who are responsible, fair-minded, and committed to building and safeguarding Jamaica.
He charged the newly appointed JPs to be bold and unwavering in their commitment to upholding the law and reject any association with criminal elements.
"I charge you to be bold and to say no. Sometimes it is hard because it is your brother... it is your friend, you went to school together, but you are duty-bound to your oath of office to say no to criminals and unscrupulous behaviour," he said.