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Public Defender to establish office in Western Jamaica

Published:Sunday | April 26, 2015 | 4:31 PM
Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry *** Local Caption *** Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry

The Office of the Public Defender will soon have a presence in Montego Bay, St James.

Arlene Harrison Henry, Jamaica's first female Public Defender, in her first public speaking engagement since taking up office in January, made the announcement at a Jamaica Association of Administrative Professionals (JAAP) luncheon at the Seawind Beach Club last Thursday.

The new offices will be opened by September 2015, at the current Independent Commission of Investigation (INDECOM) location in Montego Bay.

"It is not satisfactory that we operate only out of Kingston, our service must be available to all citizens," she stated.

Established by Parliament for the purpose of "protecting and enforcing the rights of citizens", Harrison-Henry, was quick to point out that they were not a department or an agent of government, and are not subjected to the direction of government or any minister or ministry.

According to Harrison-Henry, she will share expenses such as rent with INDECOM, spending one day per week in Montego Bay. The plan is to establish a base in at least two other parishes.

"Our duty is to give a voice to citizens to complain, as well as investigate and resolve individual complaints," she told the gathering, pointing out that her office must be readily accessible to all of Jamaica, particularly, that section of the community that is most in need.