Crime fight a major legislative focus
In the wake of frightening levels of crime resulting in the murder of 1,616 people, the ruling Jamaica Labour Party Government is moving to pass a raft of legislative measures designed to improve crime-fighting efforts and to better enable the security forces to clamp down on criminals.
The following are the legislative tools that the Government intends to table in Parliament for passage this year:
Police Service Act: This Act will replace the Constabulary Force Act and provide for the modernisation and transforma-tion of the Jamaica Constabulary Force into a modern intelligence led police service that ensures citizen security, with stronger systems of administration, management and internal discipline
Merger of the Police Services Commission and the Police Civilian Oversight Authority: This will require amendments to the Constitution that relate to the Police Services Commission
Firearms (Amendment) Act:This Bill will seek to amend the primary legislation by making provisions relating to the following: a. The establishment of criminal offences pertaining to the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms in keeping with Jamaica's interna-tional obligations; b. Effective control and security measures, including the disposal of firearms, in order to prevent theft and diversion to usage in criminal activities; and c. Ensuring that the revised Firearms Act is compatible with international standards and obligations of the Government of Jamaica
Finger Prints (Amendment) Act: Amendments to the Finger Prints Act will seek to strengthen the forensic investigative powers and capacity of law enforcement agencies. One of the proposed amendments includes a provision to allow the taking of finger prints from objects left in public spaces.
The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act (POCA): The main purpose of the amendments to POCA is to ensure compliance with the recommendations emanating from the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce Mutual Evaluation of Jamaica, conducted in 2016; as well as to update the Act for greater effectiveness. Regulations will also be developed for the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS) to guide the use of the funds recovered for national development
Criminal Justice (Suppres-sion of Criminal Organizations) Act: This law will be reviewed in accordance with legislative requirements to review same within three years of its enactment
The Parole (Amendment) Act: The amendments to the Parole Act will seek to update, modernise and strengthen the legislation to bring it in line with current trends, international standards and best practices.
Amendments to the Immigration Restriction (Common wealth Citizens) Act; Aliens Act; and the attendant Regulations: The proposed amendments seek to focus on stricter penalties giving the immigration officer more robust authority; and the use of an automated Border Control System, among other things.
The Corrections (Amendment) Act: Amendments to the Corrections Act will seek to update and strengthen the law and make it more aligned to current trends. The provisions will include, inter alia, provisions for a new definition of communication that takes into consideration modern technological advances and increases in existing penalties for breaches.
The Justice Protection (Amendment) Bill: Amendments to the legislation will seek to provide for greater protection of witnesses. The amendments will also strengthen the Government's capabilities and effectiveness for the provision of services to protect witnesses.