The Ministry of Justice recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to form a partnership with churches, aimed at training church leaders and their congregants in restorative justice practices. The signing ceremony took place on September 6.
The MOU forms part of the Ministry’s push to make justice more accessible to Jamaicans by providing alternative justice services to all citizens.
Restorative justice is a process whereby all parties with a stake in a particular offence come together to resolve collectively the aftermath of the offence. There are 20 restorative justice centres across the island and all churches, schools and communities are being urged to use the service.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, the guest speaker at the signing, reiterated the importance of having this partnership with Jamaican churches, said an Our Today article.
“This is a major historical beginning to what I hope will be a major impact of transformation across Jamaica. I have found that the church is a very important part of Jamaican society. I believe it is about time I embark on a programme to involve the churches of Jamaica to reduce conflict, volatility, aggression among other problems,” he said.
The report said that Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston, Chairman of the Jamaica Umbrella Groups of Churches (JUGC), endorsed the partnership and elaborated on the transformative impact of restorative justice.
“Restorative justice is a craft that requires developing skills, techniques, and expertise that will lead to mastery in mediating social encounters to resolve conflict. The partnership of the church with the state, for restorative justice cannot only address interpersonal conflict but must also be contributory to underlying physical and socio-political problems,” the Archbishop said.
He continued: “This partnership offers us new opportunities and new possibilities to make Jamaica the place to live, work, raise families, and do business.”
Church leaders and representatives from various denominations attended the event and expressed their support. They included the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, Church of Christ in Jamaica and the Jamaica School of Preaching and Biblical Studies, among others.