New JPs urged to avoid financial inducement
St James Custos Bishop Conrad Pitkin has issued a word of caution to the parish’s newly commissioned justices of the peace (JPs) not to use their office to secure financial gains.
The custos’ warning comes against the backdrop of recent incidents of inappropriate practices by JPs, which resulted in at least two such persons having their appointment revoked after they were allegedly caught accepting money for their services.
“At no time must you use the title of justice of the peace to secure any personal favour or financial benefits,” Pitkin admonished the new cohort of JPs during last weekend’s virtual commissioning ceremony held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
“You must perform your duties at all times without fear or favour, and avoid partisans and political influences,” the custos added.
According to Pitkin, the 41 JPs are among the first in St James to be given a seal indicating that they are now justices of the pace of Jamaica.
“You (justices of the peace) are also the first in St James to receive a seal with ‘Jamaica’ and not ‘St James’ ..., very privilege,” revealed Pitkin.
He said the approximately 1,000 JPs in the parish with the old seal might have to wait for approximately three years to have them changed out.
The Justice of the Peace Act was recently amended to appoint and commission individuals as justices of the peace of Jamaica, instead of the parish in which they reside. Despite the new change, JPs will carry out their duties and report to the custodes in the parish they are currently residing in.
Pitkin told the newly commissioned JPs that having taken their oath of office, they have been provided with an instrument to serve their community and country.
“You are to promote the principles of good governance and good citizenship. You must at all times act professionally, fairly, diligently, and expeditiously,” said Pitkin. “You are to exercise good judgement at all times. You are to hear and decide matters without fear or favour; and where there is a risk of bias or conflict of interest, kindly recuse yourself.”
“It is indeed a privilege to be among the first batch to receive the new seal bearing the words ‘Justice of the Peace of Jamaica’,” said journalist Barrington Flemming.
“It’s an added responsibility and provides an opportunity to serve my country on a wider scale. This goes to show that the trust placed in us cannot be taken for granted, and that we are now held at a higher level of responsibility as leaders,” added Flemming.