OCA wants stronger penalities for child stealers
Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, wants stronger penalties for persons who steal children.
Mrs. Gordon Harrison says the current sanction is inadequate.
She argues that there should be no restrictions on the definition of child stealing.
Appearing before a joint select committee reviewing the Sexual Offences Act and other related legislation on Wednesday, the Children’s Advocate pointed out that the offence of child stealing only applies if the victim is below age 14.
She says persons convicted for the offence can face a maximum penalty of seven years.
However, Mrs. Gordon Harrison suggested that the penalty is weak when compared to the offence of kidnapping, which applies to persons 14 and older who are taken and a ransom is demanded for their return.
A person convicted of kidnapping can receive a maximum sentence of life imprisonment with or without hard labour.
The Children’s Advocate argued that given the serious issue of children going missing in Jamaica, this gap in the legislation must be corrected.