Kingston JPs trained in mediation
Twenty-four Kingston justices of the peace (JPs) completed 40 hours of training in mediation over a two-week period recently as part of plans to have them more involved in conflict resolution across the parish.
Karen Gentles, director of the Knowledge Management Institute of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), who coordinated the training section, outlined the way forward for mediation by way of clarifying the core values for effective conflict resolution.
"Mediation is a critical element in dispute resolution and it requires persons to remain neutral, in spite of the circumstances that are discussed," said Gentles.
"Mediation is highly confidential and the discussions and notes made at no point in time will be available in the public domain," added Gentles.
Kevel Campbell, lead facilitator with the DRF, who guided the training, emphasised the role and work of mediators to the judiciary process, and urged the JPs to inculcate the principles of mediation as part of their everyday life.
Over the two-week period, participants were exposed to aspects of mediation, including conflict management, the mediator model, mediation, and the laws of Jamaica.
The JPs will now participate in five observation sessions, and on completion will conduct three supervised sessions after which they will be certified as mediators.
Mark Gonzales, president of the Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica Kingston Chapter, endorsed the continuous training of JPs and encouraged them to familiarise themselves as best and widely as possible, given the increase in the roles that are now being entrusted to them.
"I commend the organisers and the participating justices of the peace and remind fellow justices that they will now be held more accountable and will be required to submit a written report to the custos at the end of each calendar year. This is a requirement under the newly amended Justice of the Peace Act," said Gonzales.
The Justices of the Peace Act was recently amended to expand their powers and their ability to execute judiciary duties across the island.
The training of the Kingston JPs is consistent with the Ministry of Justice plan to establish justice centres in each parish.
The objective is to better enable the JPs to peacefully resolve conflicts outside of the court system, and promote harmony in communities.