Jamaica renovating courthouses
KINGSTON – The Government is expending significant sums to rehabilitate courthouses across the island, in order to strengthen the administration of justice.
This disclosure was made by Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding at Thursday’s official handing over of the Public Building North at Justice Square, downtown Kingston.
“Our physical infrastructure continues to be a top priority. The Ministry is currently undertaking much needed work in at least three of the islands court, while three others opened in the past year and half after prolonged closures,” he said.
Just over $9 million has been spent on renovations to the two-storey Santa Cruz Courthouse in St Elizabeth, which included the construction of a wheelchair lift to improve access by persons with physical disabilities.
“This is important given the passage of the Disabilities Act in 2014, which makes provisions to safeguard and ensure the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities,” the Justice Minister said.
He informed that approximately $17 million was spent on improvement works at the Black River Courthouse. In addition, a Supreme Court Western Regional Registry opened in Montego Bay, so too the Western Administrator General’s Department, and new facilities for the Montego Bay Legal Aid Clinic.
Six acres of land and funding are now being sought for the establishment of a Western Branch of the Supreme Court in St James.
Minister Golding said the Public Building North, which was renovated and furnished at a cost of over $900 million, formed part of the Reform Policy Agenda of the Justice Ministry to achieve fair and timely case resolution and improved access to justice.
The four-storey building, which has been operational since September 14, houses seven courtrooms, nine judges’ chambers, four chambers for Masters in Chambers of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court Civil Registry, and the Registry for matrimonial matters. It also has holding areas, a witness room and a police post.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice, Zaila McCalla, said the building will aid in dispensing of matters expeditiously.
“The court staff and other users of the building must endeavour to take good care of the building so that it may last for a long time,” she informed.
President of the Jamaican Bar Association Donovan Walker, commended the aesthetics of the building, which he said compares to the rooms of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom and the Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad and Tobago. (JIS)