Jamaican News

New Mobile Units To Enhance Outreach Services Of Legal Aid Council

Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, says the two newly acquired mobile justice units will significantly enhance the Legal Aid Council (LAC) outreach services for persons in marginalised and deep rural communities.

“This is going to be a game changer for small communities, rural and inner-city areas, where many of these residents don’t even have the bus fare to go to a legal aid clinic to get information about justice services and generally about law,” he said.

The Minister was speaking to JIS News at a special viewing of the buses by Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, on Duke Street in downtown Kingston, on February 4.

The LAC recently received the two new mobile units from the Canadian Government to boost the number to three.

Mr. Chuck said community groups, church and service-based organisations can now contact the LAC and book the buses. Requisition forms may be found on the Council’s website at www.legalaidcouncil.moj.gov.jm. Persons may also call 876-948-7275.

“Give us at least six weeks’ notice, so we can have a proper schedule where one of these buses can come and provide the service,” he encouraged, adding that the Ministry will partner with other government agencies to provide additional services, especially in the rural communities.

He lauded the Canadian Government for their assistance in providing the units. “This has been a partnership with the Canadian Government. They gave us one bus and over the past three years, that one bus has been overused,” he noted.

“Over 4,000 persons have consulted with that one bus, so when I came on board and saw how that one bus was being overused, we requested two additional buses, so now we can serve communities not only once but several more times, plus we can also go into many more communities,” the Minister told JIS News.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council, Hugh Faulkner, said the units fit well with the Ministry’s mandate to have increased access to justice for all Jamaicans.

There are three legal aid clinics across the island, in Kingston, St. Andrew and Montego Bay.

“Jamaica is a far wider expanse than that, so what the mobile units will do is actually be a mobile office equipped with a lawyer, record and research officer and driver that will go across the parishes. There are eight justice centres completed just now, so we will be scheduling visits to particular parishes,” he told JIS News.

Mr. Faulkner said the scheduled dates will be publicised where persons can go and have consultations with a lawyer, free of cost.

He said the buses should be rolled out before the end of the month, adding that the acquisition of the buses will assist in providing services to Jamaicans who do not live close to the existing legal aid clinics.

For her part, Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Her Excellency Laurie Peters, said her country is proud to partner with Jamaica to provide “access to justice and bring justice to the citizens of Jamaica”.

“These two buses have particular features building on the success of the previous one. We have a disability ramp, so that anyone with any mobility challenges can access the bus and the free legal aid services. It also has Wi-Fi on it, so that not only the clients but the lawyers, as well, can very quickly address questions and situations that come up. There are also allowances for privacy as well,” she told JIS News.

In 2017, the Ministry, through the LAC, launched the Mobile Justice Unit, geared towards improving legal representation for vulnerable persons in marginalised and deep rural communities.

The Legal Aid Council is the agency mandated to provide legal services to members of the public who have been charged for various offences.


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