KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Canadian-funded project Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) project sponsored an advanced community mediation workshop at the University of the West Indies’ Mona Campus, Jamaica, on November 15-17, 2018, under its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) component.
The twenty-four participants comprised persons who had been trained by IMPACT Justice in basic community mediation and had demonstrated an aptitude and interest in being trained at the more advanced level. The diverse group of participants came from seven Caribbean countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Kitts and Nevis, and included academics, attorneys-at-law, clergymen, police officers, probation officers and social workers.
Topics covered during the three-day workshop included gender and diversity issues, techniques in the settlement of family and property disputes, fees and pro bono services and the establishment of community mediation committees and service points. Participants engaged in role plays with fact patterns mirroring many of the issues they would face in practice.
Since 2015, IMPACT Justice has trained 599 persons (370 females and 229 males) from across ten Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states in basic mediation and has already assisted with the establishment of interim mediation committees in Dominica and Grenada. As the project moves forward, it is hoped that those trained will be pivotal in the establishment of community mediation service points and networks in their respective countries.
The project’s model CARICOM Community Mediation Bill provides a template for CARICOM countries seeking to develop community mediation frameworks in order to improve their citizens’ access to justice and reduce court backlogs.