Audio-Recording and Video-Link Equipment for Courts
Digital audio-recording and video-link equipment valued at J$232 million (€1.7 million) were handed over to the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston on Monday (November 13).
The equipment, provided under the European Union (EU)-funded Justice, Security, Accountability and Transparency (JSAT) project, will be installed in 71 courtrooms and seven hearing rooms across the island. Installation is almost completed at the Supreme Court.
The technology will facilitate witnesses giving evidence from remote locations, assist in protecting the identity of witnesses and reduce the time taken for judges to note important information, which will result in speedier resolution of cases. The provision will also result in cost savings by reducing the movement of detainees for court hearings.
Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, in his remarks at the official handover ceremony, expressed gratitude to the EU for the provision of equipment, which, he said, is expected to go a long way in reducing the backlog of certain cases.
He said the items provided represent a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to modernise the justice sector.
“The Ministry of Justice is committed to providing the necessary resources to further improve the justice system,” he noted.
He informed that significant budgetary support is being provided for the repair, rehabilitation and establishment of additional courtrooms and offices for judges.
“I am hoping that early next year, three brand-new courts will be available in the Court of Appeal. Within a matter of weeks, there will be additional courtrooms in the Supreme Court for criminal trials,” he noted.
Mr. Chuck indicated further that two new traffic courts are to be handed over this week at Sabina Park in Kingston.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Justice Ministry, Carol Palmer, informed that judges have completed sensitisation in the use of the audio-recording and video-link equipment and are “most welcoming of the initiative”.
She noted that there is still work to be completed in developing the protocol, and standards that will apply in the use of the technology.
Mrs. Palmer expressed gratitude to the Ministry’s own management information systems team for advancing the retrofitting of the Supreme Court with the technologies.
Head of Delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, said that Jamaicans can look forward to further initiatives under JSAT in 2018.
These include refurbishing of the National Police College at Twickenham Park in St. Catherine; design and installation of case management systems for the Ministries of Justice and National Security; and equipping and training of staff at the forensic laboratory.
Ambassador Wasilewska said the EU’s support is fully aligned with the development priorities of Jamaica and seeks to help in the realisation of Jamaica’s long-term development plan, Vision 2030 Goal 2, which aims to ensure that the Jamaican society is secure, cohesive and just.
The EU Head said her organisation is committed to strengthening the fruitful relationship shared with Jamaica, which has been built over decades of common values and mutual respect.