• JIS News

    Debate on the six crime Bills was postponed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 15) as the Government and the Opposition agreed to hold talks to arrive at a “workable agreement” on the legislation.
    “I think it is the feeling of the House that this would be the best position. Given the controversial nature of the Bills, this would be the best approach to give a unified signal,” said Leader of Government Business in the Lower House, Hon. Andrew Holness.
    The six Bills are: an Act to amend the Bail Act; an Act to further amend the Firearms Act; an Act to amend the Offences Against the Person Act; an Act to amend the Parole Act; an Act to make interim provision in relation to the grant of bail in specified circumstances; and an Act to make interim provision extending the powers of arrest and detention under Sections 50B and 50F of the Constabulary Force Act.
    Debate on the Bills started on Wednesday (June 2), with Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, calling on the Members of Parliament to support, what he described, as a “necessary response to a problem that has to be dealt with,” even as he acknowledged that some of the measures may be contentious.
    Among the controversial Bills is the Act to make interim provision in relation to the grant of bail in specified circumstances. The legislation proposes that a person, charged with violent or certain drug-related offences, should be entitled to be granted bail only after the expiration of a period of 60 days commencing on the date on which he/she is first charged, and only if the person satisfies the court that bail should be granted.
    Members have also raised concern about the move to extend the powers of arrest and detention under sections 50B and 50F of the Constabulary Force Act, so that a person can be detained for up to 72 hours, instead of 24 hours, without being charged or taken before a magistrate.
    It also provides for the arrest and detention of a person outside of the locality of a curfew or cordon, if a divisional commander or a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) at the rank of Assistant Commissioner, is satisfied that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that the person is about to commit, or has committed a crime within the area of the curfew or cordon.