JUST on track for positive changes
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
CANADIAN HIGH Commissioner to Jamaica Robert Ready has asserted that a high-level meeting with Justice Minister Mark Golding has uncovered positive changes from its CN$20 million initiative called Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) programme.
"There is some movement in the reform of the justice system that is really in parallel with where the Jamaican authorities are going," said Ready in an exclusive interview with The Gleaner.
"We had a justice round table last week in which the Ministry of Justice laid out a very comprehensive legislative and reform agenda," added Ready.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada, (DFATD), through its partnership with the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Justice, Canada, and the United Nations Development Programme has been engaged in the JUST programme of reform agreed by the Government of Jamaica and supported by the Canadian government.
Ready's comments regarding the JUST programme have come days after a representative of another international partner hailed the advances being made by the Ministry of Justice in reforming the process.
Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales Alison Saunders led a team to Jamaica a week earlier than the Canadian delegation as a member of the Crown Prosecution Service, which is assisting in facilitating smooth passage through Jamaica's court system.
Saunders and her team are focused on providing technical expertise to its criminal-justice interventions in Jamaica.
The Canadians, on the other hand, have pumped in millions of dollars as well and have provided technical support to both the civil as well as the criminal sides of the justice system.
Ready told The Gleaner that the JUST programme involves the input of technical assistance in the form of interactions with Canada's Department of Justice and the Ministry of Justice in Jamaica.
"We work with the Supreme Court and the chief justice here in reorganising the court structure and how many managed cases there are," he said.
"We are also working with the director of public prosecutions (Paula Llewellyn) and her office on some procedural manuals related to the nitty-gritty of carrying out cases in the system," added Ready.
It was against this backdrop that the high-level team visited Jamaica to facilitate greater dialogue around the justice reform process between Canada and Jamaica.
Dr Gail Miller, the minister counsellor (development) and Canadian director at the Caribbean Development Bank who has been assigned to assist the region, was accompanied by Gwen Walmsley, deputy director, planning and HQ coordination, Caribbean Program.
Miller has taken up the position in the region as senior director of the Caribbean Regional Programme, DFATD.