Mon | Sep 25, 2017

More courts to use audiovisual, transcript technology

Published:Sunday | January 15, 2017 | 1:52 AM

(JIS) - At least 70 courts are to be equipped with audiovisual and transcript technology, according to Justice Minister Delroy Chuck.

Speaking at the launch of the Legal Aid Mobile Unit at his Constant Spring Road offices in Kingston on Friday, Chuck said the technology, which has been long awaited, will enable the proper archiving of records of what transpires in the courts.

“We won’t have judges or court reporters taking notes. We will simply have a recorder doing everything that happens in the court,” he pointed out.

The mobile unit, which has been designed to offer services to people most in need of a criminal lawyer, represents another strategy by the justice ministry to take its services to the citizens of Jamaica, primarily those in the rural and inner-city communities.

Others services to be offered by the bus include restorative justice, mediation and victim support.

Chuck said the mobile unit will support the justice ministry’s priority in improving access to justice for everyone and getting legal representation for persons unable to afford counsel, such as the mentally ill and vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the justice minister indicated that other developments are to take place in the sector, including passage of “critical pieces of legislation”, such as the Integrity Commission Act, Arbitration Act and the Plea Bargain Act.

He said the Plea Bargain Bill will be placed before Parliament later this month.

“We’re also to continue the training of judges, court staff and justices of the peace (JPs),” Chuck noted.

A major campaign to strengthen and empower JPs across the island will also be launched and 14 justice centres are also to be put in place to advance restorative justice, child diversion, human trafficking and domestic-abuse services.

Jamaica’s country representative of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), David Osbourne, is hoping that the bus will fulfil the justice ministry’s mandate of bringing justice services to communities across the island troubled by violence and organised crime.

“We really hope this initiative will help set a path towards peace, where disputes and injustices are resolved in a peaceful manner,” he said.

For his part, head of cooperation at the Canadian High Commission, Walter Bernyk, said the bus and its attendant services represent a significant step forward in communicating information for change as well as access to information.

Executive director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner, expressed gratitude to the ministry for the mobile unit.