Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Justice Minister outlines plans to improve court infrastructure

Published:Wednesday | May 23, 2018 | 12:46 PM
A section of the Court of Appeal in downtown Kingston.

The government is to spend $846 million to build three new courtrooms, 15 judge’s chambers and expand the registry at the Court of Appeal in downtown Kingston as part of a wider plan to improve the country's court infrastructure.

Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2018/19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday.

He again said the Government would be amending the Constitution for retired judges to sit beyond age 70, on an as-needed basis.

“A Standard Document and a five-year plan to guide the development of the physical infrastructure for the justice sector and the procurement of furniture and equipment will be developed. This will be a significant development, as that document will guide the infrastructural agenda for the fiscal years 2019/2020 to 2020/2021,” Chuck noted.

He said the country will “witness the new face of justice” when the ministry starts the design and, hopefully, the construction of several judicial complexes across the island.

These, he said, include the construction of the St James Regional Judicial Complex; St Ann Regional Judicial Complex; Manchester Regional Judicial Complex; Trelawny Parish Court Complex; and the construction of the Spanish Town Parish Court Complex.

“When you visit St James, St Ann, Mandeville these are courts that really must be abandoned. They are courts that are difficult to do justice in, the conditions are just not appropriate, and I hope, Cabinet approving, that we can start the design and construction of [the] new court complexes,” Chuck said.

The minister also outlined plans for the establishment of five Family Courts, one per year, St Catherine being the one for this fiscal year; and the expansion of the Supreme Court.

“There will be Mobile Courts for vulnerable witnesses, we have already bought the mobile unit.  Witnesses will be able to give evidence from remote locations,” Chuck said.

He added that the days when remandees have to travel to court for mention dates will be over.

The justice minister said jails, prisons and the Horizon Remand Centre will be linked into the courtrooms live and direct through the technological systems being provided to the courts. 

“This will reduce the reliance on the security forces to provide transportation for offenders to attend court,” he said.