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Province Addressing Justice Issues in Labrador

by NationTalk on November 9, 20071092 Views

Justice
Executive Council
Aboriginal Affairs
November 9, 2007

The Provincial Government is making progress to improve the justice system and ensure appropriate levels of service for every Newfoundlander and Labradorian who must avail of the justice process, particularly in Labrador.The Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, and the Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, responded today to a report released earlier this week by the Purple Heart Campaign, a project of the Mokami Status of Women’s Council that is monitoring how women are treated by the justice system.

“I commend members of the Purple Heart Campaign for their commitment to the justice system of Labrador, and in particular the administration of justice for women in Labrador,” said Minister Kennedy. “Their concerns are obviously heartfelt as evident in their report and I thank them for providing me with a copy for consideration.”

Minister Kennedy pointed out that the majority of the recommendations of the group are already being considered by the Department of Justice while some others have seen significant progress. On several issues, groups such as the Mokami Status of Women Council have helped inform the department’s plans and responses.

“The Purple Heart Campaign is an important piece of work by the women’s community that will be used by this government in our work to ensure sensitivity and understanding of family violence issues throughout Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Minister Burke. “Officials from the Women’s Policy Office and the Department of Justice recently met with the Mokami Status of Women’s Council and attended the launch for the campaign. Both offices intend to continue to work with women’s groups throughout the province to ensure that justice professionals are fully aware of the family violence and sexual assault issues that exist.”

“Aboriginal women face unique challenges when dealing with the justice system,” said Minister Pottle. “I am encouraged by the Mokami Status of Women’s Council’s dedication and with the willingness of the Provincial Government to work with Aboriginal women.”

Minister Kennedy indicated action has already been taken to enhance justice services in Labrador by the Williams Government. The appointment of a new Provincial Court Judge has re-established the Wabush Provincial Court and will help alleviate caseloads and ensure timely access to court proceedings throughout Labrador as the judge may travel throughout the region.

The province has also partnered with numerous institutions in the province, such as Memorial University, the College of the North Atlantic, and the Public Legal Information Association to develop interpreting resources and programs that enhance access to courtroom services in Inuktitut and Innuaimun for Aboriginal peoples in Labrador.

In Budget 2007, the Provincial Government provided $211,000 for an expansion of Family Justice Services in Labrador and increased funding to all eight Status of Women’s Centres to $100,000 annually. Furthermore, $70,000 was committed for a community justice forum coordinator for the RCMP in Labrador; $40,000 in funding for an Aboriginal justice conference in Labrador to enhance staff understanding and sensitivity; $40,000 was committed to increase Legal Aid’s community support workers in coastal communities; and, enhancements in court security through the Sheriff’s Office were also provided.

“In order to ensure sensitivity and understanding of family violence issues throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, Crown prosecutors have received training in this matter and will also participate in meetings with women’s groups throughout the province to deliver information and education sessions regarding family violence and sexual assault laws,” said Minister Kennedy. “Our government will continue to work with such groups as the Mokami Status of Women’s Council to ensure we have an effective and responsive justice system.”

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Media contacts:

Ken Morrissey
Director of Communications
Department of Justice
709-729-6985, 709-685-6612
kenmorrissey@gov.nl.ca

Jacquelyn Howard
Director of Communications
Women’s Policy Office
709-729-0048, 709-689-2624
jacquelynhoward@gov.nl.ca

Lori Lee Oates
Director of Communications
Aboriginal Affairs
709-729-3733, 709-690-8403
oatesll@gov.nl.ca

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