JIS News

Cabinet has discussed and forwarded proposed amendments to three pieces of legislation, which are expected to be tabled in Parliament at its next sitting on September 26, Information and Development Minister, Senator Colin Campbell has said.
Providing further details at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing held at Jamaica House yesterday (September 18), Minister Campbell said amendments were being proposed for the Legal Aid Act, the Jury Act, and the Justices of the Peace Jurisdiction Act.
In terms of the Legal Aid Act, he said the Bill would seek to “make legal aid available for the interview of alibi witnesses of a person who is charged with any offence, including excepted offence, and who has raised the defence of alibi”.
As for the Jury Act, the amendment is to enable the abolition of special juries. Outlining the rationale, the Minister said that, “the Jury Act does not stipulate qualifications for special jurors but by inference from relevant provisions, the special jurors must be sufficiently competent to address complex or difficult questions of fact”.
“However, the distinction which existed between special and common juror was removed several years ago. Special juries were so rarely used that they were not a significant feature of the Jamaican justice system and are now regarded as an anachronism. The view is that the abolition of special juries will have no adverse effect on the administration of justice in Jamaica,” he added.
Senator Campbell pointed out that the use of special juries has also been abolished in other Commonwealth countries, including the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Barbados, while there was no provision for special juries made in the relevant laws of certain Caribbean states, including the Bahamas, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda.
Of the Justices of the Peace Jurisdiction Act, he said the amendment came about because of the need to empower certain employees.
“The Act provides that a notice, or other process given under the Road Traffic Act or the Transport Authority Act, may be construed as an information and summons. In order to facilitate that process in relation to fixed penalty notices issued under the National Solid Waste Management Act (NSWMA), and in relation to littering offences, a decision has been taken to amend the Justices of the Peace Jurisdiction Act, to include references to fixed penalty notices issued under Section 53 of the NSWMA Act,” the Minister explained.