JIS News

As the government continues to modernise existing laws and establish new ones in the fight against crime, National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips yesterday (May 31) pointed to a number of pieces of legislation, which he said would be brought to the Houses of Parliament during the 2006/07 legislative year.
These include further amendment to the Firearm Act to introduce a new offence for illegal trading in firearms and ammunition with stiffer penalties; and amendment to appropriate legislation to permit the taking of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples upon arrest for certain scheduled offences.
A Port Security Bill is also to be passed, to consolidate the responsibility for security at all ports of entry and streamline the administrative procedures, while a bill to establish a national independent investigative authority will be considered. This piece of legislation will seek to strengthen the investigative capacities of the state against corruption, financial crimes and abuse of authority.
Amendments will also be made to the Evidence Act to permit the presentation of testimony from remote locations, using modern technologies, thereby protecting witnesses and reducing the fear of reprisals.
Meanwhile, legislation will be introduced to provide penalties for trafficking in persons, and it is intended to review legislation pertaining to immigration and citizenship to bring these laws into the 21st Century, Dr. Phillips said.
During 2005/06, several pieces of legislation were passed to give the necessary legal framework to support the work of the security forces. These included: the Finger Prints (Amendment) Act to allow for the taking of photographs and fingerprints of persons detained by the police for certain specified offences without the requirement of a court order; the Criminal Justice (Plea Negotiations and Agreement ) Act 2005; the Larceny (Amendment) Act 2005 to provide for easier prosecution and stiffer penalties for extortion; the Law Reform (Notice of Alibi Evidence) from accused persons; and the Civilian Oversight Authority Act 2005, to provide oversight for the Jamaica Constabulary Force in order to boost public confidence and ensure greater accountability.
Also passed were: amendments to the Firearm Act to establish the new Firearm Licensing Authority to ensure greater integrity in the granting and renewal of firearm licences; and the Interception of Communications (Amendment) Act to permit speedier and more convenient procedures in assisting law enforcement authorities to keep pace with changes in communications technology.
Meanwhile, the Proceeds of Crime Bill is currently before Parliament and in Joint Select Committee. Describing the Bill as “far reaching”, Dr. Phillips explained that it was intended to “enable us to more easily separate criminals from their ill-gotten wealth”.