Justice minister wants new courthouse for Manchester in 18 months


Justice minister wants new courthouse for Manchester in 18 months

Observer writer

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Justice Minister Delroy Chuck says he wants to see a new courthouse built for Mandeville within the next 18 months.

Long considered inadequate for rapidly escalating court requirements and in urgent need of replacement, the more than 200-year-old Mandeville courthouse was damaged by fire on November 7.

The fire forced the relocation of the parish court's administrative staff to an office near the tax office at the James Warehouse Plaza, close to the centre of Mandeville.

Speaking at a justice of the peace training session in Hatfield yesterday, Chuck said he wants to break ground for a new courthouse before the end of this fiscal year.

“One of the things I hope, in short order, is that we can break ground for a new courthouse. More than 18 months ago I sat down with the prime minister and I said [to him], we need new courthouses and he said, 'Yes. How many?' and I said, 'About six'. He said, 'Please start out with two'. We started to discuss where the two should be and we agreed that there should be one in Manchester and one in St James, and I am so disappointed that 18 months later we haven't broken ground for either,” said Chuck.

He said funds have been provided to build both courthouses.

“For the last two years money was provided in the budget to start the courthouse, but for one reason or another we have not been able to start…We have identified some land, we are looking at others, but before the end of the year I want to be able to say that we located somewhere here in Manchester and we have bought it, because I want to break ground before the end of the fiscal year,” he continued.

The justice minister added: “We want to complete this courthouse in Manchester within the next 18 months. I can't allow 18 months to go and we don't complete the courthouse here in Manchester.”

He said the courthouse must be built as a model for the Caribbean.

“This courthouse, I have told my staff, must be built for the next 100 years. We don't want no 'pyaw pyaw' [insignificant] courthouse. It is going to be a model for courthouses not only for Manchester and Jamaica, but hopefully for the Caribbean.

“These courthouses must be iconic, they must be symbols of justice, fair play and peace within our society, and that is the mission that I would really like to drive over the next few years,” said Chuck.

He said work is ongoing to renovate space at James Warehouse to accommodate parish court hearings.

“The property at James Warehouse is now being occupied by staff and we are outfitting large areas of it to accommodate the parish court…Hopefully by the end of the month the parish courts can be held [at] that location, even though we are still undecided [as] to what will happen when Circuit [Court] starts,” he said.

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