Justice ministry working to ease backlog of cases
IT IS expected that Jamaicans should begin to see significant results in terms of turnaround times, access to justice for marginalised groups such as the poor and mentally ill, and fewer children facing formal prosecution in the criminal justice system, following a contract signing between the Ministry of Justice, Tankweld Fabrication Limited and to Keith Ryan and Company Limited.
Tankweld is to undertake the installation of ‘Z profile louvre blades at the Supreme Court on King Street in downtown Kingston at a cost of $21.44 million. Keith Ryan and Company was contracted for the procurement of highdensity filing systems for the Ministry of Justice’s head office at a cost of $21.87 million.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck bemoaned the fact the there has been a lack in management over the years which continues to contribute to the backlog of cases, among other gaps in the system.
“This is where we are putting in all the courts statistical and data management, so we know how all the cases are flowing and we know how many times the cases would have come to court. So now, we get a better understanding of the case flow within the Parish Courts, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal,” he told journalists at a press conference and contract signing at the ministry’s offices in St Andrew last week.
“When this is done, we can get a better idea of how to respond in terms of additional judges, prosecutors and additional personnel because, at the present time, one of the main failures of the court system is the lack of management of the cases and how they move through the courts,” Chuck continued.
He added that “all of this will be helping us with the backlog reduction, and with the backlog reduction, there can be no doubt that we are going to have to increase [the number of] Court of Appeal judges, [have the] full complement of Supreme Court judges and even more Parish Court judges.”
Chuck indicated that there continues to be a huge gap between where the ministry is and where they want to be, but pointed out that they are working hard to enhance the system.
“We are in touch with the court system and all the stakeholders as to how many more personnel they need, certainly for the next fiscal year, so that the courthouses themselves can perform at a higher pace and that persons using the courts can feel that their cases are being dealt with expeditiously,” the minister said.
“I’ve looked at a number of areas where we can have additional courts. We now have four Drug Courts [and] we are expecting to put in another one in Mandeville,” the minister stated.