Newly renovated Chapelton Family Court opens
Residents of Chapelton and neighbouring communities in Clarendon now have a newly renovated Family Court, which was refurbished with funds provided by the European Union (EU) and government of Canada.
The facility, which is located at the Chapelton courthouse, was officially opened last week by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck and Chief Justice Bryan Sykes.
The newly upgraded court will offer a range of legal and support services relating to adoption, childcare and protection, counselling, custody and maintenance, domestic violence, guardianship, and youth delinquency.
Chuck, who thanked the EU and Canadian government for facilitating the court's renovation, said the facility's infrastructure will serve as the standard by which others are either built or upgraded.
All courts First-World standard
Noting that over $700 million has been spent to repair facilities in the justice sector over the last fiscal year, the minister expressed the hope that "within the next two years, all courts will be of First-World standard".
Meanwhile, Chuck advised that steps are being taken to further increase citizens' access to legal and judicial services.
These, he informed, include the acquisition of two additional mobile legal aid clinics that have been promised by one of Jamaica's multilateral development partners, and which will increase the fleet to three; and the establishment of 14 justice centres - one in each parish - to deal with matters related to mediation, trial diversion, and restorative justice.
The minister indicated that two justice centres have, to date, been established, one of which is located in St Ann and the other in Portland.
He advised that another four justice centres are slated to be opened by the end of April in Manchester, Westmoreland, Trelawny and St Mary, while expressing the hope that the remaining eight will be established during the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Chuck said these engagements are indicative of the Government's commitment to provide the requisite resources to boost the judiciary's service delivery.
Sykes noted that the Government's support for the judicial system has been "very tangible" and has, among other things, facilitated an increase in the staff complement at the courts.
"We have received 22 additional judicial clerks, which will bring the complement to 43; and now almost every judge will have a judicial clerk. This will eliminate one of the reasons given for the delay in a timely delivery of justice," he noted.
Sykes further advised that three additional judges will be appointed to serve in the Court of Appeal to expedite the delivery of justice there, while the posts for 10 Parish Court judges have been approved.
Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, advised that the EU will be assisting the Government to establish or upgrade a number of courts, particularly in rural communities.
Ambassador Wasilewska indicated that four of these are expected by 2020, to bring to nine the total number that have so far been built with EU support.