Tue | Nov 20, 2018

Grange opens debate on bill to clear criminal records of national heroes, their associates

Published:Wednesday | October 11, 2017 | 9:41 AM

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

Parliamentarians on Tuesday started debating legislation to clear the criminal records of four of Jamaica's national heroes including one, after whom the building which houses Parliament is named, George William Gordon.

The bill was piloted by the Minister of Sports, Culture and Gender, Olivia Babsy Grange, who, like several of the country's historians and politicians, have called for the clearing of the criminal record of the country's first national hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey. 

Yesterday Grange went further, however, by adding the names of Samuel Sharpe, Paul Bogle and George William Gordon.

The legislation also seeks the clearing of the criminal records of the supporters, sympathisers and participants by association, as well as other freedom fighters as a result of their participation in several uprisings between 1760 and 1929.

Dubbed the National Heroes and other Freedom Fighters (Absolution from Criminal Liability in Respect of Specified Events) Bill it seeks absolution from criminal liability for the selected specified events.

Absolution is being sought for participation in the 1760 Tacky Rebellion, the 1831-1832 Christmas Rebellion, the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion and the 1929 campaign of the Peoples Political Party, respectively and connected matters. 

 “Where an official document contains any information suggesting that a person referred to in the subsection was cautioned, arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted or sentenced, for an offence in respect of an event referred to in the subsection, the holder of that record shall include with that information a notification that pursuant to this Act, the person has been absolved of criminal liability in respect of the offence ...” the bill reads.

In opening the debate Grange said “This Bill … seeks to redress the wrongs and set the captives free ..."