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Justice commission on the horizon

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake agreed to five directives concerning Kahnawake Justice Services and the soon-to-be enacted Justice Commission. (Kahenientha Cross, The Eastern Door)

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake passed a handful of directives last Monday related to Kahnawake Justice Services that will alter the local organization. 

“There’s been a lot of changes in terms of community justice over the past couple of years,” said commissioner of justice Kevin Fleischer. “We had to make sure that the roles of different justice-related bodies were selected with where we are today and where we’re going.”

The responsibility of the justice commission will be removed from the justice services mandate and turned into its own community body.

“The justice commission will become more of an oversight body, where they oversee justice services,” said Fleischer. “Which gives it the important task of developing and managing the Kahnawake Justice System.”

The purpose of separating justice services and the justice commission was to create a better environment to focus on Kahnawake’s take on justice, and provide services that weren’t present before.

“We need a body that is responsible for justice day in and day out and that will be justice services,” said Fleischer. “Their main mandate is to develop that and provide services. We didn’t have that before.”

With the new justice body being approved and created, comes job openings.

Administration spots, such as receptionists, need to be filled for the commission and will be posted within the coming weeks.

A community review board made up of five community members will be the decision-makers for the justice commission, and the deadline for applying for the five positions was Tuesday.

Peacekeeper chief Dwayne Zacharie was appointed as temporary general manager until an appropriate community representative is found. Justice of the peace Stephanie Cross and  mediator Dale Dione-Dell were appointed as commission members for three years as well. 

The mandate for the review board members is to ensure that justice services is carrying out its duties without bias. 

“Because of the important role played by justice services it’s important that there be transparency and accountability, and that someone is making sure that justice services are doing what it’s supposed to be doing,” said Fleischer. “It is important the justice commissioners are a safe arm’s length away from council’s to ensure public confidence in the justice system.”

The separation of justice services and commission allows for Kahnawake to have a better focus on the justice system and implement the Kahnawake Justice Act passed in 2015.

“It establishes a justice department for Kahnawake focussed on administrating justice issues,” said Fleischer. “Making sure things are where they should be.”

Times have changed and so has the justice system, Kahnawake included.

“As years went on, the justice services didn’t fit the role of justice commission anymore,” said Fleischer. “Things are getting busy and things are getting bigger and we need a community body to be able to manage that.”

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