Chuck urges use of justice ministry services

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck is calling on citizens to make use of underutilised services that are provided islandwide by his ministry.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Ministry of Justice is very proud of all the services but the truth is that they are not being accessed enough — and that is why I really hope that today’s fair will see persons coming in and getting information. Those who can’t make it today, always know that you can access it by calling 1-888-JUSTICE (1-888-587-8423),” said Chuck at a Ministry of Justice Legal Aid Council’s ‘Justice Fair’ held recently at Harmony Beach Park in Montego Bay.

Chuck argued that for some people, they only seek help when their backs are against the wall.

“We have a situation where the only time the people come and bother the Ministry of Justice for help is when they want to travel, is when they want a job and they realise that they had an offence 20 years ago. If you have an offence that can be expunged, do not wait until you need it and then bother people and the minister of justice,” he said.

“If you need help, if you have a previous conviction and you have been leading a straight life thereafter, your conviction can be expunged. But, apply for the expungement now. Do not wait until you urgently need it to go for a visa or to get a job,” added Chuck.

During the fair the Jamaica Observer caught up with Keith Edwards who travelled from St Elizabeth to seek help in getting a decade-old matter expunged.

“It will help me out a lot because basically mi ah try to expunge mi record, although they say it ah guh tek six to eight months, but mi still will wait on it,” stated Edwards.

St James resident Valery Grant wanted to renew her passport and came to the fair to seek advice on how to get this done.

“I think it is a good idea that we have this event and citizens can get certain things done. For example, I would like to talk to somebody about the renewal of my passport; that would save me going to the offices if that is possible,” stated Grant.

During the event Chuck also spoke of the challenge posed when individuals die without leaving a will, and encouraged those in need of advice to utilise his ministry’s many services. He noted that the Government is spending close to half a billion dollars to ensure those in need of an attorney in court or legal advice can have access.

Custos of St James Bishop Conrad Pitkin, who was integral to the planning of the fair and had recommended the Harmony Beach Park location, was thrilled that the event was held — though he would have loved to see a better turnout.

He also pointed out that with the current crime situation in the parish, citizens can benefit from the various programmes offered by the justice ministry.

Among the agencies present were the Child Diversion Programme, Independent Commission of Investigations, Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, the Legal Aid Council and the victims unit.

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