Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Programme
What is the JUST Programme?
Despite relative success since its independence, Jamaica continues to be confronted by serious social and economic issues. With a high debt burden, over 60% of the government’s annual budget is committed to interest repayments, leaving few resources for improving social infrastructure. Unplanned urbanization, coupled with inadequate infrastructure and protracted economic slowdown has led to degradation in inner cities with communities, feeling the typical, interconnected pressures of their social conditions: poor housing and social amenities, overcrowding, high unemployment, poverty and rampant crime and violence.
Jamaica has an extremely high homicide rate. Successive governments have tried, with some success, to crack down on the problem of crime. However, high levels of gang activity and organised criminal networks keep levels of violence at a high. This places strain on the security and justice sectors and contributes to instability and underdevelopment in violence-prone communities. Within this context, justice institutions face enormous workloads despite their small workforces and extremely limited financial resources.
In the midst of these varied social, political and governmental burdens, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) is committed to strengthening its transparency and accountability to its citizenry. Successive Prime Ministers have confirmed the GOJ’s commitment to strengthen the justice sector, improve the courts, reform the police, and take measures to address the underlying causes of the high rates of crime. The GOJ’s efforts to date have been protracted, due in part to the lack of financial and institutional resources to meet identified needs.
UNDP has been actively supporting citizen security, access to justice and deepening democracy in Jamaica through previous projects. Against this background, the Ministry of Justice and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and UNDP agreed to partner in support of the government’s justice reform initiatives. In December 2011, the Ministry of Justice and CIDA launched a CDN $18.5 million Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Programme to facilitate the priority actions. Because of its experience in the Jamaican justice sector, access to a global network of technical expertise and strong relationships with state, civil society and international development partners, UNDP is unique positions to assist the government through the JUST programme in capacity development of justice institutions.