Dismiss cases five years and older - Chuck
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has urged judges to move to dismiss cases that are in the system for five years and more by the end of 2016.
He insists that cases must be dealt with within months, similar to procedures in other jurisdictions.
"I would urge that this year, those cases, unless there are reasonable grounds for them continuing, should be dismissed for want of prosecution. It is just not fair that any accused person, even if he is guilty, has to be going to court for five years, hoping that their innocence can be pronounced," he argued.
Chuck was speaking at a forum on the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Programme, held recently at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.
He said timelines must be established for the disposal of cases to ensure efficiency in the justice system and also protect the rights of Jamaicans.
"I hope in another year, we can say no case over four years and that we can try to get down to as close as two or one year as possible. We must get cases tried and completed within a reasonable time," he said.
The justice minister acknowledged that there are challenges facing the sector, such as the shortage of judges, and noted that measures are being undertaken to address these issues.
The five-year JUST Programme, which ends this year, is being undertaken through CAD$20 million in funding from the government of Canada.
This programme seeks to reform Jamaica's justice system, making it more efficient and accessible, and also raise awareness among Jamaica about legal processes and procedures, and their rights before the justice system
High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica Sylvain Fabi said that the JUST Programme has been successful in supporting legislative reforms, including establishing sentencing guidelines and facilitating timely release of judicial decisions, among other things.
He said the Canadian government is "seriously looking" into extending provisions under the programme, noting that "there are things we should continue to do".
"The Canadian government is honoured to be a part of the justice reform programme in Jamaica," he noted, while commending the Jamaican Government on the successes.
The forum included presentations from several members of the judiciary on court reform innovations under the JUST Programme.
These included senior resident magistrate (RM) of the Corporate Area RM Court, Judith Pusey; court administrator of the RM Court, Tamara Walker-Dewar; as well as an appeal judge in the Ontario Court of Appeal, Justice Michael Tulloch.