New JPs get stern warning from Chuck
Additional resources are to be provided for the local justice sector this year as part of a pivotal effort to swiftly deal with court cases involving murders and other violent crimes committed in the country.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, who made the announcement during an installation ceremony for new justices of the peace in St James last Wednesday, outlined that with 1,616 people murdered in Jamaica last year, the justice system requires more resources to be effective as a clear message must be sent to criminals that crime does not pay.
"Anyone who commits a crime, then they will be able to face the jury within a reasonable time and certainly this year, we are going to concentrate on a number of serious crimes such as murders, drugs, illegal possession of firearms, extortions and lotto scamming," said Chuck.
"So, when we find and charge those criminals, within weeks or months they must be tried and put away," continued Chuck. "The resources will be provided immediately in the Budget, so if anyone this year believes that they can remain a criminal, they will get their justice quickly within months."
Longstanding cases to remain a major focus
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has made it clear that cases that have been languishing in the court system for months or years will not be neglected. In fact, he said reforms are pending to speed up the backlog of cases, with justices of the peace (JPs) to be called upon for more assistance.
"Next week, I am hoping to continue the debate on the Justice of the Peace bill, a new bill, and certainly this year, we will have this new JP Bill where this time you will all be called JPs of Jamaica and not just JPs," said Chuck, as he addressed an installation ceremony for new JPs in St James last Wednesday.
"Also, those of you who are trained as lay magistrates will no longer be serving in the petty session court but will be serving in lay magistrates' court. Because the work (that you are called to do), there is nothing petty about it. It is time for you to dispense justice in lay magistrates' courts, apart from aiding your community," added Chuck.
Oath of office
During the ceremony, 77 men and women took the oath of allegiance as well as the oath of office to be officially installed as JPs of St James. The installation ceremony took place at the West Jamaica Conference Centre in Mt Salem.
In speaking to the crime problem in the parish, which has resulted in the Government announcing the declaration of a limited state of public emergency on Thursday, Chuck urged the new batch of JPs to play its rightful role in weeding out corruption, even within their own ranks.
"I am asking that if you see some of the other JPs acting inappropriately, dishonestly or taking money to the work, please let the custos know, so we can decommission those JPs," Chuck said, less than 24 hours before the state of emergency was announced.
"You must assist us in cleaning up this dignified body."