Senate Passes Legislation To Absolve Certain National Heroes From Criminal Liability

Photo: Michael Sloley Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister and Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, pilots the debate on the National Heroes and Other Freedom Fighters (Absolution from Criminal Liability in Respect of Specified Events) Act, 2017, during Friday’s (February 9) sitting of the Senate at Gordon House. In the background is Government Senator, Aubyn Hill.

Story Highlights

  • The Senate, on Friday (February 9), passed the National Heroes and Other Freedom Fighters (Absolution from Criminal Liability in Respect of Specified Events) Act, 2017, with five amendments, during its sitting at Gordon House.
  • The Bill, which seeks to clear certain National Heroes including the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, George William Gordon, Paul Bogle and Samuel Sharpe, and their supporters of criminal charges arising from their involvement in the fight against slavery, was passed in the House of Representatives last October.
  • “We were not around when Paul Bogle and George William Gordon were executed…(or) when Marcus Mosiah Garvey was tried, sentenced and convicted for contempt of court in 1929,… but we are here today. Today we will play our part and right (the) many wrongs,”

The Senate, on Friday (February 9), passed the National Heroes and Other Freedom Fighters (Absolution from Criminal Liability in Respect of Specified Events) Act, 2017, with five amendments, during its sitting at Gordon House.

The Bill, which seeks to clear certain National Heroes including the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, George William Gordon, Paul Bogle and Samuel Sharpe, and their supporters of criminal charges arising from their involvement in the fight against slavery, was passed in the House of Representatives last October.

Friday’s debate was piloted by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister and Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, who reiterated the Government’s stance of the need for the Act to come into effect to facilitate the restoration of the dignity and integrity of those deemed to have suffered much for Jamaica’s long-term good.

“We may not have been (at) Tacky’s rebellion in 1760, one of the most significant fights for freedom in Jamaica’s history…an uprising where hundreds of enslaved persons revolted against unspeakable conditions in which they live. We may not have been around when Samuel Sharpe took a stand in leading the Baptist war in 1831 to 1832, also known as the Christmas Rebellion.

“We were not around when Paul Bogle and George William Gordon were executed…(or) when Marcus Mosiah Garvey was tried, sentenced and convicted for contempt of court in 1929,… but we are here today. Today we will play our part and right (the) many wrongs,” she said.

Senator Johnson Smith said the Bill’s passage in February was timely in light of its observance as Black History and Reggae Month. She also noted that the legislation’s passage in the Lower House last October coincided with the commemoration of Heritage Month.

Government members supporting the Bill during their contribution to the debate included: Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., Don Wehby, Kerensia Morrison, and Kavan Gayle.

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