President of the Advocates’ Association of Jamaica, Leonard Green, says there will be consequences following reports that courts in Western Jamaica are being affected by COVID-19. He says one such concern of the courts’ disruption will further extend the backlog in cases.
In an interview this morning with a popular radio station, Mr. Green says this closure is a breach of individual’s constitution rights and the relevant authorities need to reconsideration measures in order to keep the courts functioning during this time.
“When persons are remanded in custody and have not been given an opportunity for their application for their bail to be heard, it affects people in a significant way where their constitutional rights are severely affected. So it is a question of COVID notwithstanding, what is it we can do? What it is we should do, to ensure we can provide at least a basic service to the public so that the administration of justice can be continued,” said the AAJ president.
This came in light of last night’s announcement by the Courts Administration Division that the St. James Parish Court will be closed for one week after a number of employees tested positive for COVID-19. This closure is said to start today, Monday August 9.
The Administration also stated that the Westmoreland Parish Court will remain open but with a reduced number of staff for the next two weeks. St. James and Westmoreland Parish Courts and associated outstations have been affected by the COVID-19 virus.
Mr. Green further expressed that the situation at the Westmoreland Parish Court may be more severe than is being conveyed through the media.
“Only yesterday I had words that a bailiff in the Savanna-La-Mar Court has fainted and after he has been examined, it was discovered that he has COVID and a number of staff members are being tested and there’s a real possibility that the Savanna-La-Mar Court may have been devastatingly affected by the COVID pandemic on the parish of Westmoreland. It is really a problem that some kind of immediate resolution has to be found to address…,” Mr. Green stated.
Delayed court sessions will be expected to occur at the Westmoreland Parish Court.
However, court attendees are being advised to use the following contacts for further information:
The Westmoreland Parish Court
E-mail: [email protected].