Sun | May 28, 2023

Young JP urges more youth to step forward to serve country

Published:Tuesday | March 28, 2023 | 12:21 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer
Newly commissioned Clarendon Justice of the Peace Samantha Ackas receives her instrument of appointment and seal from Justice Minister Delroy Chuck while Custos William Shagoury looks on.
Newly commissioned Clarendon Justice of the Peace Samantha Ackas receives her instrument of appointment and seal from Justice Minister Delroy Chuck while Custos William Shagoury looks on.

Youth parliamentarian Marcellé Jackson is calling on more young Jamaicans to take up the mantle to offer their time and skills in service to their country.

The 27-year-old Jackson was the youngest among 65 new justices of the peace (JPs) commissioned in Clarendon last Friday.

Although the new cohort brings to 635 the number of JPs in the mid-island parish, Custos William Shagoury has said that the number is still not enough.

Speaking with The Gleaner following the ceremony in Hayes, Jackson said: “It’s a very rewarding feeling and a great way [for youth] to give of themselves to make their country a better place just by maintaining peace within their communities.”

Jackson, the founder of MJ Foundation, a non-profit organisation geared at providing charitable assistance within schools and communities across Clarendon, told The Gleaner that she has always been passionate about service.

“I love to help people, especially through my non-profit organisation, where I give back to persons in my community through various initiatives, so becoming a JP is just the icing on the cake. I feel especially blessed to be appointed, ... especially being the youngest,” she added.

Shagoury reminded the newly-minted JPs of the code of ethics and protocols by which they must abide.

“I beg of you, take them seriously because I am one serious custos, and one mistake and you’re out,” he cautioned.

“It is your responsibility to safeguard and take care of your seals, and ensure they are locked away when not in use, and kept out of unauthorised hands ... . Never leave them in your car,” the custos added, seemingly alluding to the reported theft of a Clarendon JP’s firearm from his car last year.

Stressing that the JPs are chosen based on their character, the custos also emphasised that the service is voluntary, reminding that those who serve should refrain from charging or accepting money for services.

“Voluntary. We don’t charge any fees,” Shagoury stressed. “Your deportment must align with the standards of conduct.”

The custos also implored the new JPs to make themselves available to their communities and the police.

Acting Senior Superintendent Carlos Russell, commanding officer for the parish, lauded the JPs for stepping forward to serve, but lamented that the police oftentimes struggle to enlist the services of a JP.

“We have some complaints sometimes from communities that sometimes the JPs are not available to them. We, the police, have to be calling the custos sometimes to get some JPs to assist us, sometimes it is very difficult,” said Russell during his address.

Referencing a flare-up of violence across sections of the parish, Russell charged, too, that a part of work of a JP is to ensure peace within communities.

“The communities will be looking at you to lead from the front,” he told the cohort.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck also urged the newly commissioned JPs to work with the police.

He also reiterated earlier remarks that denounced JPs offering services at a charge.

“Even if someone offers you something after you have signed a document or given them a recommendation, refuse it. ... . This is voluntary work. You might wonder why, [but] the truth of the matter, as the Bible [encouraged], it is always good to give,” said Chuck.

Aldo Brown, president of the Clarendon Justices of the Peace Association, also called on the new JPs to serve with integrity, accountability, and transparency.