Committee Eager To Complete Deliberations On Revision Of Penalties

Photo: Michael Sloley State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green (left), converses with (from 2nd left) Pastor, Webster Memorial United Church, Rev. Astor Carlyle; Human and Mission Resources Manager, United Church in Jamaica and Grand Cayman, Janet McConnell; and Child Development Agency Chief Executive Officer, Rosalee Gage-Grey, during a child abuse forum on Thursday, May 11. The forum was hosted at the church on Half-Way Tree Road in St. Andrew.

Story Highlights

  • State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, says while no timeline has been set for the conclusion of the Committee’s work, which started in 2014, the members are “impatient” for the enactment of changes being considered.
  • Speaking at a child abuse forum hosted by Webster Memorial United Church’s Advocacy Ministry Committee on May 11, Mr. Green indicated that the Joint Select Committee has held three meetings since reconvening earlier this year, and is scheduled to meet again within two weeks.
  • The State Minister said there was also a submission relating to the age of sexual consent, noting the “legal differentiation” on that issue.

Parliament’s Joint Select Committee reviewing the Child Care and Protection, Sexual Offences, and Offences against the Person Acts is eager to wrap up its deliberations on the revision of penalties.

State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, says while no timeline has been set for the conclusion of the Committee’s work, which started in 2014, the members are “impatient” for the enactment of changes being considered.

Speaking at a child abuse forum hosted by Webster Memorial United Church’s Advocacy Ministry Committee on May 11, Mr. Green indicated that the Joint Select Committee has held three meetings since reconvening earlier this year, and is scheduled to meet again within two weeks.

The forum was held at the church, located on Half-Way Tree Road in St. Andrew.

Mr. Green said the Committee has received a significant number of submissions from several non-governmental organisations since commencing the reviews.

These include the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Jamaica office, which he said was among the first stakeholders making presentations.

“They raised the issue in relation to the definition of rape and whether (this offence) should be redefined. We have had some very strong submissions on that,” he outlined.

The State Minister said there was also a submission relating to the age of sexual consent, noting the “legal differentiation” on that issue.

 

“There is no such thing as consensual sex below the age of 16. Once a child turns 16, that child is able, under law, to consent to having sex. Any encounter below that age, even if the child says ‘yes’, is deemed sex with a minor. Additionally, where there is no consent involving a child 16 and older, that is deemed rape,” he explained.

The State Minister advised that the penalty for rape ranges from a minimum of 15 years to a maximum of life imprisonment.

Mr. Green also indicated that there are other offences with several variables for which there was a “huge divergence” of opinions.

“That is why the Joint Select Committee was established, because we do believe that we have to send a very clear signal in our sanctions in relation to where the country stands on penalties for offences against our children and our women,” he said.

Against this background, Mr. Green told JIS News that the Committee would continue to accept submissions, adding that “we are trying to see how quickly we can get through these”.

“We don’t want to rush through them (as) we want to give persons a chance to come and air the critical points. Most are written, and we have been able to peruse a number of them. So, when people come, they will just share the critical elements,” the State Minister said.

Mr. Green pointed out that when the Committee members finish their work, they will submit a report to Parliament outlining the proposed amendments.

“Once Parliament reviews that report, then it’s just to make the actual changes,” the State Minister said.

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