$1.3 billion spent on 43 justice institutions in 2018/19

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THE Ministry of Justice says it has spent $1.3 billion to construct, rehabilitate, and refurbish 43 justice institutions, including several of the island’s courts, during the 2018/19 fiscal year.

This was disclosed by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck as he made his contribution to the 2019/20 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Major infrastructural works undertaken during the period included expansion and upgrading of the Court of Appeal, valued at $846 million. There was also the addition of three courtrooms and 14 judges’ chambers, as well as upgraded meeting facilities and offices.

“This expansion is critical to the reduction of the backlog in cases, as already the expansion has allowed for an increase in the number of judges at the Court of Appeal, and by extension an increase in the number of cases being tried, and subsequent disposal of these cases from the court system,” Chuck said.

Other works included the expansion and upgrading of the Supreme Court building in downtown Kingston, which included the addition of two new courtrooms and the commissioning of two new elevators.

In addition, bathroom refurbishing works were undertaken in eight major courthouses valued at almost $19 million.

Chuck told the House that the bathroom refurbishing works will continue into this fiscal year and beyond.

Meanwhile, the minister noted that increased use of technology has been a major focus in justice reform.

“For this reason, there is ongoing installation of audio-visual equipment such as microphones, speakers, HD televisions, HD cameras, and computers in 78 courtrooms,” Chuck pointed out.

As it relates specifically to equipment delivery and configuration, 57 out of 78 courtrooms have been fully equipped, while the remaining 21 have been partially equipped.

In terms of providing the functionality of digital audio recording of evidence, 75 out of 78 courtrooms are capable of recording evidence.

These equipment will provide for audio-video link technology that will facilitate testimonies from remote locations across the island.

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