#Jamaica, October 27, 2017 – Kingston – A Public Education Day hosted on October 25 at the Manchester Parish Court, to create awareness about the justice system and the work of the court, has been hailed a success and an important initiative. The event was the sixth in a series of Public Education Days being hosted across the island by the Judiciary of Jamaica, aimed at enhancing access to justice.
President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Dennis Morrison, addressing the opening ceremony at the Parish Court in Mandeville, said the initiative is being implemented with a view to exposing a wider audience to the work of the justice system and to garner a better understanding of the value of the court as a critical institution.
“It is our responsibility as a society to ensure that our legal institutions are respected and treated with all the deference that they deserve, not for their own sake but because they are important symbols of what we stand for,” he said.
Justice Morrison urged the public to partner with members of the judicial system to agitate for the development of adequate facilities and to ensure that the system is supplied with the tools needed to carry out its duties.
The Public Education Day incorporated a tour of the courthouse and a tour of booths set up by some 24 partner agencies. These included the Child Development Agency (CDA), the Department of Correctional Services, the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), the Trafficking in Persons Unit, the Office of the Public Defender, HEART Trust/NTA, and National Integrity Action.
Departments and agencies of the Ministry of Justice present included the Victim Support Unit, the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), Justice Training Institute and the Administrator General’s Department.
INDECOM Senior Investigator, Owen Wright, noted that it was important that the agency participate in the day’s activities, as its work is critical to an effective justice system.
“All of us need the same thing, which is really an accountable and professional police force, and an event like this is to ensure that we are all on the same page,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer, DRF, Jennifer McDonald, said the Foundation had collaborated with the Manchester Conflict Resolution Association for the event due to an understanding of the role of dispute resolution to the judicial process.
“In many instances, matters are referred to mediation from the courts and it is really a wonderful method… for parties to arrive at some agreement. We have, over the years, worked very closely with the justice system to resolve a number of the cases in the courts,” she said.
Public Education and Special Projects Manager, OCA, Latoya Minott-Hall, concurred with this sentiment.
“We have to work very closely [with the courts] in terms of the duties we offer to the State… regarding protecting and enforcing the rights and best interest of the child. We depend on the courts to render justice to our clients, so anything that the court is doing, we will be a part of it willingly,” she said.
Dignitaries present at the event included Chief Justice, Hon. Justice Zaila McCalla; Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn; Public Defender, Arlene Harrison Henry; and Mayor of Manchester, Donovan Mitchell.