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  • Among the proposed amendments are: an increase in monetary penalties of a fine not exceeding $3 million
  • Penalties are applicable to persons who inflict any violence on anyone who appears before a Commission
  • The decision to amend the Act was as a result of the difficulties experienced in the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry

The Government of Jamaica is to amend the Commission of Enquiry Act to modernise and discourage acts that undermine the effectiveness of the Commission or which are disruptive of the Commission’s proceedings.

The Commission of Enquiry (Amendment) Act was tabled in the Senate on Friday, September 13, by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. AJ Nicholson, on behalf of Minister of Justice, Senator, the Hon. Mark Golding.

Among the proposed amendments are: an increase in monetary penalties of a fine not exceeding $3 million on summary conviction from a Resident Magistrate, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or both fine.

Offences that will now attract increased penalties include: failure to appear before the Commission; and failure to produce without reasonable excuse, any book, plan or document that the person is required to produce by a summons under the Act.

The Bill also proposes that anyone who commits an offence of fraudulent misrepresentation or deceit, and make or exhibit any false statement, will be fined $3 million or sentenced to up to three years in prison, or both.

A fine of $3 million or a prison term of up to three years is also applicable to persons who inflict any violence on anyone who appears before a Commission; cause someone to lose their job; or willfully prevent someone from appearing before a Commission.

The decision to amend the Act was as a result of the difficulties experienced by the Commissioners in the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry in 2001 to obtain evidence. Subsequently recommendations were made in the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry report in 2002 to address those difficulties.

The Commission of Enquiry Act empowers the Governor General to issue a Commission appointing one or more Commissioners and authorizing the Commissioners to enquire into the conduct of any public or local officers, or into any matter, in which an enquiry would, in the opinion of the Governor General, be for the public welfare.