Laws of Eve | Some of our laws have rubber teeth
When Tesha Miller appeared in court to answer charges that he had made a false declaration to immigration officers by using fictitious names to leave the island, he could have used a few coins to pay the paltry fine. The alternative, of facing 10 days in prison, was not even a consideration.
This scenario highlights a worrisome fact there are many archaic laws in Jamaica that demand urgent attention if they are to adequately punish or effectively serve as a deterrent to crime.
NO LONGER USEFUL
While some toothless pieces of legislation might have outlived their usefulness, others are still relevant, but might produce nothing more than gentle admonition if breached.
I was able to find several Acts which provide for fines ranging between J$100 and J$1000. Today, I will review three of them.
The River Rafting Act
This Act that establishes the River Rafting Authority, is intended to, among other things, regulate river rafting in Jamaica. It was enacted on February 20, 1970, and it has never been amended, although it remains important since river rafting is a popular recreational attraction for tourists and locals.
The Act prescribes the making of regulations governing the licensing of rafts; the conduct of rafts men and passengers; as well as the maximum number of persons to occupy a raft. For the breach of any regulations, the maximum fine payable under section 9 (4) is J$200, with optional imprisonment for up to six months.
Interestingly, the regulations were amended as recently as 2007, but the maximum fine was not reviewed.
Human Tissue Act
section 4 - five hundred to one thousand dollars
If you would like your body or a specified part to be used after your death for therapeutic purposes or to be donated for scientific purposes, this is the Act that tells you how to do it. It was enacted on August 24, 1972 and it has never been amended.
According to section 2, anyone who has lawful possession of the body of a deceased, can also make that donation. However, the person who is entrusted with custody of that body to inter or cremate it, has no such authority (section 3 (6) and only a registered medical practitioner is authorised to remove a body part of the deceased person (section 3 (4).
The penalty for breach of section 3 (4) is one $J1000, and for section 3 (6) it is $J500. Thankfully, for commission of these serious offences, a term of imprisonment of up to six months could accompany or be substituted for the fines.
The Undesirable Publications (Prohibition of Importation) Act
section 5 (1) J$100.
On June 20, 1940, in an effort to prevent publication that would be contrary to the public interest from entering Jamaica, this act came into effect. (It should be noted that the Norman Manley International Airport was built in 1940/41 and, according to jamaicaechoes.com, three planes had already landed in Jamaica between 1930 and 1932!)
For anyone who imports, publishes, sells, offers for sale of, distributes, reproduces or has any offending publication, a fine of J$200 is payable. The perpetrator may be imprisoned for up to 12 months, either in addition to the fine, or as an alternative to it.
I do hope that the persons who have the responsibility to review the laws of Jamaica had a wake -up call this week.