The House of Representatives, on February 26, approved three Bills to remove flogging and whipping from the country’s statute books as a penalty for any offence.
Bills passed were: the Larceny (Amendment) Act 2012; the Law Reform (Flogging and Whipping) (Abolition) Act, 2012; and the Obeah (Amendment) Act 2012.
The practice of whipping and flogging ceased in Jamaica’s penal institutions in 1997 and since that time, the courts have not handed down sentencing with those stipulations.
Opening the debate, Attorney General, Patrick Atkinson, noted that flogging and whipping are part of a legacy from the era of slavery.
“Our people were subject to whipping and flogging as routine methods of imposing the slave master’s brutal and exploitative discipline,” the Attorney General said.
He argued that flogging and whipping are considered to be degrading and inhumane treatment under international law.
For his part, Leader of Opposition Business in the Lower House, Delroy Chuck, while supporting the Bills, noted that they will bring “some humanity” to the country’s system of government.
“There can be no doubt that this should have been done long ago. I must admit that I thought these punishments had long been removed from the statute. The truth is that there is a strong sentiment in the country that the harsher the punishment, the less crime. There is no truth (to this),” Mr. Chuck said.
The Bills were passed in the Senate on February 15.