Persons, who damage national monuments and heritage sites, could soon be slapped with stiffer penalties.
The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) is in the process of revising the Jamaica National Heritage Act, which governs the protection of the island’s heritage, to, among other things, adjust the outdated fines prescribed for breaches.
Legal Officer of the JNHT, Ms. Lisa Grant said that the fines in place range from $20,000 to $40,000 for demolition or alteration of a national monument.
“What we want to do is to ensure that the fines are at such a level that they will be a deterrent,.” she informed as she addressed a recent Think Tank held at the JIS’ head office on Half-Way Tree Road in Kingston.
Legal Officer of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), Ms. Lisa Grant (left), consults with Executive Director, JNHT, Ms. Laleta Davis Mattis, before making her presentation at a JIS ‘Think Tank, held on Wednesday (February 10), at the Agency’s head office in Kingston. It was revealed that the organisation is in the process of revising the JNHT Act.
“It is not a punishment. We want people to consider if it makes sense for them to go ahead and breach because they can pay the fine and carry on with what they are doing. We want it to be at such a level that nobody will even contemplate breaching the Act,” she pointed out.
Miss Grant said that the JNHT will also be looking at strengthening its public education programme, noting that stricter penalties are not the only way to ensure compliance.
“There has to be that buy-in from the public, the ownership from the various communities and the citizens of the country to protect the heritage, and the law will facilitate that,” she noted.
Turning to other areas, which have been identified for resolution in the Revised Act, Miss Grant said that these include several inconsistencies in the treatment of protected national heritage sites and national monuments.
“They should actually be treated equally under the law but there are several provisions, which show certain gaps, which were not intentional but which we want to resolve,” she told JIS News.
Meanwhile, the JNHT has been holding public consultations to hear views on the existing law and how to protect the nation’s heritage. So far six sessions have been held in Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Ann, Trelawny and St. James.
Residents of Manchester are invited to attend a meeting at the Golf View Hotel on Caledonia Road, Mandeville on Thursday, February 18, starting at4:00 p.m., while a session will he held in St. Thomas at a venue and time to be announced.
Persons who are unable to attend the sessions to air their views could do so by calling the head office at 922-1287-8/922-3990 or emailing their comments and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.