Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck is reminding Jamaicans that they are still able to access justice services, particularly through the use and integration of technology, in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Trials have been put off until later in the year, because consistent with no large gathering and social distancing, it is not possible to have trials, but the courts are still operating in very limited circumstances, but in emergency matters, and custody matters, you can access information and participate,” he said, during a digital town hall meeting.
The forum was held to examine the effects of COVID-19 on the justice sector. Chuck also informed that the COVID-19 stakeholder panel, which was convened by the Chief Justice, meets regularly. It has representatives from all the Bar associations, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the police, the Department of Corrections, the Ministry of Justice as well as other agencies.
“This panel is important to those who seek to access justice to the extent that they can participate via their attorneys to get in touch and the president can bring the concerns, the issues and challenges faced by litigants and those who seek to access the courts,” he said.
He noted too that persons who may require legal advice can contact the Legal Aid Council via email or telephone.
“In this crisis, the Chief Justice, Supreme Court Judges, Parish Court Judges, attorneys, we are all looking at how we can innovate and be creative in responding to the challenges, in particular as is happening right now. We can live stream, people can ask questions and that’s exactly how the courts… are operating now and they continue to operate using technology,” he said.
Meanwhile, Director, Client Services, Communication and Information, Court Administration Division, Kadeish Jarrett-Fletcher, said though operations have been scaled back to adhere to the guidelines established by the Government, persons are being encouraged to utilise the services of the emergency call centre to make queries at 1-888-429-5269 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She said jurors who were scheduled to appear on April 15, have been rescheduled for May 11.