As the Government moves to improve the number and quality of Bills passed in the Houses of Parliament, approximately 32 Bills will be approved during this legislative year.
This was disclosed by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, as he delivered the Throne Speech in Gordon House, on May 10, to mark the opening of the new Parliamentary year.
He said the administration will strengthen all stages of the legislative process, noting that the number of Bills to be passed will be about twice the average of the last few years.
The key pieces of legislation to be passed include: An Act to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice as Jamaica’s final Court of Appeal (to involve further dialogue with the Opposition); a Secured Transactions Act to overhaul Jamaica’s antiquated system for taking security over collateral other than real estate. “This will be replaced with a modern, efficient and inexpensive mechanism for perfecting secured transaction costs and enhancing the flow of credit in the economy,” the Governor-General informed.
Other legislations include a new Patents and Design Act to provide a modern framework for investment; Amendment of the Evidence Act to allow video-recorded evidence (particularly useful for child victims of sexual abuse) and evidence from remote locations via a live link (for the protection of vulnerable witnesses and to facilitate witnesses who are overseas). The new Act will eliminate various outdated evidential requirements, which slow down and increase the costs of criminal trials.
The Government will also introduce anti-gang legislation to more effectively target criminal gangs and organised criminal groups, which are responsible for 70 per cent of all murders in Jamaica, the Governor-General further informed.
The administration will facilitate the use of DNA evidence in the criminal justice system and rationalise Jamaica’s institutional arrangements for fighting corruption by consolidating them under a single anti-corruption agency having strong powers.
“Government places priority on preparing and passing an Act to establish Jamaica as a Republic, within the Commonwealth of Nations. The Government will be proceeding in this regard through consensus and dialogue with the Opposition,” the Governor-General added.
The administration is expected to complete the new National Security Policy, which will provide a comprehensive framework to guide the national security apparatus and criminal justice system in the realisation of greater citizen security in Jamaica.
“The policy will frame our co-operation and collaboration with international partners and mobilise national support at all levels in the building of a safer and more secure Jamaica,” the Governor-General said.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter