Zero Tolerance on Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse – PM

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, addresses a press conference at Jamaica House on Wednesday, February 8, where he announced measures to counter domestic violence, sexual abuse and the sexual grooming of minors. Looking on are (from left): Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Rocky Meade; Acting Commissioner of Police, Novelette Grant; Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte; and Minister of National Security, Hon. Robert Montague.

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is taking a zero tolerance approach to domestic violence, sexual abuse and the sexual grooming of minors.
  • Addressing a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 8) at Jamaica House, Mr. Holness said the police force has been charged to intensify its response to these crimes through the use of measures such as preventative detention.
  • Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said Cabinet has given instruction for a revision of the Domestic Violence Act “to ensure that domestic abuse crimes are treated as serious crimes and attract serious penalties”.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is taking a zero tolerance approach to domestic violence, sexual abuse and the sexual grooming of minors.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 8) at Jamaica House, Mr. Holness said the police force has been charged to intensify its response to these crimes through the use of measures such as preventative detention.

He explained that this involves removing an aggressor from the scene of a potential crime or abuse in an effort to de-escalate the situation and prevent the person from harming others.

The Prime Minister indicated that such persons will be required to partake in counselling or educational sessions as a condition of their release, following an assessment by the police.

Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, explained that preventative detention, which is lawful under the Jamaican constitution, requires that the police have reasonable grounds for detention and that there is fair procedure.

“There is a need for it… in the context in which domestic violence is taking place it will allow the police to lawfully take someone whom they have reasonable grounds for believing is likely to commit an offence away, in order to prevent that person from committing the offence,” she said.

The individual can be detained for up to 24 hours. Mrs. Malahoo Forte explained that if there is cause to extend the detention beyond 24 hours, a Justice of the Peace can provide an order for the period to be extended.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said Cabinet has given instruction for a revision of the Domestic Violence Act “to ensure that domestic abuse crimes are treated as serious crimes and attract serious penalties”.

Mr. Holness said the Government is also moving to intensify engagement with international partners to ensure that all appropriate information is provided about Jamaican deportees, particularly relating to sexual offences the person may have committed.

He said the measures announced are in response to increasing reports of violence against women and children and follow extensive discussions by Cabinet and the National Security Council.

JIS Social