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Travel with national ID to benefit from Mario Deane-inspired regulation, says lawyer

Published:Wednesday | August 13, 2014 | 12:45 PM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

Prominent attorney, Bert Samuels, is urging Jamaicans to travel with a national ID at all times in order to benefit from the new police guidelines for persons charged with minor offences, like the possession of small quantities of ganja.

Yesterday, the Government announced the new guidelines following the death of 31-year-old Mario Deane while in police custody for a ganja spliff.

Samuels says the guidelines will see the police treating minor offences similar to traffic offences where tickets are given to violators as a summons to attend court.

However, he says unlike drivers who are more likely to have their drivers licences, the average man on the street nabbed for minor offences like the possession of ganja is not likely to be carrying a national ID such as a passport, a voter's ID or a driver's licence.

However, Samuels says it is now important that Jamaicans travel with any form of ID they may have to make it easier to be granted station bail as opposed to being held in custody.

Under the new guidelines, the police have been told to use a summons to prosecute offenders if a Justice of the Peace is available.

However, if a JP is not available and the offender is unable to provide identification or be identified, the offender must be taken to a police station until the identity is verified.

Once the offender's identity is confirmed, the Government says he may be granted bail on his own surety and a date set for him to appear in court.

The police have been told that only in exceptional cases should they place in custody persons who have committed minor offences for example if the offender is being investigated for serious offences.

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