Legal Aid Mobile Unit Could Make Justice More Acceptable – Joe Issa

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Joe Issa, a recognized Ocho Rios civic leader and qualified conflict mediator with the requisite number of hours under his belt, has welcomed the introduction of a mobile legal aid unit to serve
the country’s underserved inner-city and rural communities, stating it will assist in bringing closure more quickly and swiftly, which could spur higher acceptability of the justice system.

Submitted: February 10, 2017

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Submitted: February 10, 2017

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Joe Issa, a recognized Ocho Rios civic leader and qualified conflict mediator with the requisite number of hours under his belt, has welcomed the introduction of a mobile legal aid unit to serve the country’s underserved inner-city and rural communities, stating it will assist in bringing closure more quickly and swiftly, which could spur higher acceptability of the justice system.

“I think the idea of a mobile legal aid clinic is a good one when you consider a large number of people who need legal assistance in how to proceed with solving their issues but can’t afford the costs. And the longer they wait for, the more tempers flare and ‘justice delayed’ becomes ‘justice denied’.

“Early attention to the needs of people, who are not able to hire a lawyer to advise them and take up their cases, will bring closure more quickly and swiftly, which could spur greater acceptability and confidence in the justice system,” says Issa, who is executive chairman of Cool Group.

Stating he did not have the figures but though the number of people who need legal aid was significant, Issa says the mobile unit will reach people who can’t even afford the fare to Kingston let alone the cost of litigation,” adding that “such progress is both legal and social.”

Issa was commenting on news that the Justice Ministry had launched a mobile unit, which has been designed to offer services to people most in need of a criminal lawyer, and that it would provide other services such as restorative justice, mediation and victim support.

Research shows that a similar initiative in 2012 by the Legal Aid Society in New York, increased its ability “to go directly to those clients who reside in the most vulnerable and isolated communities…in order [to] provide early intervention legal services.”

Quoting someone from the society, the article said: “by going out directly into these communities rather than waiting for individuals to come see us in our neighbourhood and courthouse-based offices, we can address legal problems at an early stage before litigation has begun and clients would normally seek our help.”

In like manner, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said “the mobile unit will support the Ministry’s priority in improving access to justice for everyone and getting legal representation for persons unable to afford counsel, such as the mentally ill and vulnerable,” according to the JIS.

The news agency also cited other developments that are taking place in the justice sector, such as the passage of the Integrity Commission Act, Arbitration Act and the Plea Bargain Act, as well as the training of judges, court staff and justices of the peace (JPs), as another strategy to take legal services to the citizens of Jamaica, primarily those in the rural and inner-city communities. .


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