Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Prisoner transfer provision in DNA law removed

Published:Tuesday | December 15, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding last Friday moved to allay fears that the Government was introducing the prisoner-transfer agreement through the back door by inserting provisions in the DNA law which makes reference to this proposed arrangement between Jamaica and the United Kingdom.

On Thursday, Opposition Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte sought an explanation from government senators as to why Clause 29 made reference to the transfer of prisoners from overseas to Jamaica and the taking of their DNA samples.

Senator Golding provided the explanation suggesting that the provision was inserted into the bill from a provision in the Irish Criminal Justice Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System Act. He said several provisions in the local DNA law were borrowed from that Irish statute.

He made it clear that the reference to prisoner transfer did not exist in local legislation and that the Government did not intend to introduce it in this manner.

"There is no intention to introduce prisoner transfer in this way," Golding said, adding that "the provision in Section 29 was dealing with the taking of samples for DNA purposes from persons who have been transferred as prisoners from overseas, but there are no provisions in our law to allow that".

According to Golding, his colleague Minister of National Security Peter Bunting had already announced that any such prisoner-transfer agreements would be subject to legislation being brought to Parliament.

He said the piece of legislation for the proposed prisoner-transfer arrangement has not yet been prepared. "There is a committee of Parliament to be established to look at the whole issue of prisoner transfer."

The subsection in Clause 29 dealing with prisoner transfer has been taken out of the draft legislation.