Jamaica has received a CAD$12-million boost from longstanding international partner, Canada, through the newly launched Social Justice (So-JUST) Project.
The seven-year initiative, which runs from 2021 to 2028, aims to facilitate a more rights-based and gender-sensitive justice system that yields equitable outcomes for all Jamaicans.
It comes in the wake of the recently concluded Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) programme, which ran from 2011 to 2021.
So-JUST is intended to integrate the four pillars of social justice – equity, access, participation, and rights.
It will focus specifically on enhancing the rights of and access to justice for women, girls, people with disabilities, and residents of rural and vulnerable communities.
The project is designed to directly benefit the poorest and most disadvantaged users of justice services, in particular survivors of gender-based violence.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck and High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica, Emina Tudakovic, were among the speakers at the project’s launch on Thursday (January 12).
The event was hosted at the Ministry of Justice on Constant Spring Road in Kingston.
In his remarks, Mr. Chuck thanked the Canadian Government for supporting the project, emphasising that, “Jamaica must respond by becoming a peaceful, safe and secure society”.
“So, this programme has now been launched. It’s really one where we expect strong communication, so that every single citizen is made aware that you will have help [and] you can get help,” the Minister said.
Chuck urged persons to “use the services being provided by the Ministry of Justice and other State agencies… and in doing so, we, hopefully, can create a kinder and gentler society; we certainly can reduce, deter, and prevent many violent confrontations”.
High Commissioner Tudakovic, in her remarks, said Canada is “honoured to be associated with the justice reform process in the Caribbean”, and assured that the country “remains committed to supporting stakeholders as they seek a more equitable, efficient and responsive justice system for all”.
For his part, Canada’s Minister of International Development. Harjit Sajjan, outlined that, for many years, his country has been a primary international development partner of the Government of Jamaica.
He also highlighted the importance of the So-JUST Project, which supports mediation, restorative justice, child diversion programmes, and child justice coordination systems.
“This directly improves justice outcomes by reducing the backlog in the courts. For women and girls in rural areas, the extension of access to legal-aid systems has a direct impact,” Minister Sajjan said.
The So-JUST Project is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Justice Ministry and the Office of the Chief Justice, with funding from Global Affairs Canada.
Key target beneficiaries include the departments and agencies of the Justice Ministry, the courts, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The project is aligned with Vision 2030 Jamaica’s target of creating a safe, cohesive, and just society, as well as UN Sustainable Development Goal # 16, which speaks to promoting a peaceful, just, and inclusive society.
This is in addition to UNDP’s strategic plan for 2022 to 2025, to build resilience through structural transformation.
Also attending Thursday’s launch were Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte; Chief Justice, Bryan Sykes; Resident Representative, UNDP, Denise Antonio; Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewelyn; and Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Grace Ann Stewart.