Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Wounded JFJ confident of survival

Published:Sunday | September 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Restoring public confidence in an organisation that has been branded a gay lobby group could be one of the toughest tests for the new board of the human-rights lobby group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ).

But the man given the job of leading the rebirth of the organisation, Dr Barry Wade, is not worried as he believes most Jamaicans have not lost their faith in JFJ.

"The ordinary man and woman in the streets come to JFJ daily for advice and for help and we have attorneys in the organisation who are helping them," Wade told The Sunday Gleaner.

"Right now, we have more than 100 cases in the Coronary Court or the Supreme Court ... and we will continue to do this," added Wade as he pointed to the almost 300 people who JFJ is now helping to address the injustice meted out to them.

According to Wade, the furore surrounding the JFJ over the controversial sexual education course in six children homes is because the facts have not yet come out and the issue was badly handled by its former board.

"What we did in the children's home is in no need of apology and is defendable. In fact, when the truth is known, the public at large will understand that JFJ had no reason to either apologise or go into retreat," declared Wade.

He said the present board of the JFJ and the membership regret the position of retreat and apology adopted by the previous leadership of the organisation in the immediate aftermath of the public disclosure.

"We regard what the board did as unwise and we have expressed our dissatisfaction with it. The new board is getting the organisation back on its main line and dealing with the inaccuracies and untruths and the negative publicity which have come at us."

According to Wade, the previous board, which was chaired by Lisa Lakhan-Chen, was advised that, based on the statements of Youth Minister Lisa Hanna, the dispute over the course could become a judicial matter and JFJ should be quiet on the matter.

"It was bad advice taken to the extreme by the previous board. We were not wrong to go into the children's home, we were wrong with how we handled the fallout.

"The membership at large disagreed with that and that caused some of the internal fallout that you saw happen," said Wade in reference to the resignations and rift that bedevilled the JFJ in the aftermath of the public disclosure.

According to Wade, the new board, which is slated to be in place until next March when the organisation holds its annual general meeting, is confident that its membership remains strong and fully committed to its mandate which was stated 15 years ago.

arthur.hall@gleanerjm.com