'Book of rules' need revision


'Book of rules' need revision

Observer writer

Monday, March 30, 2020

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ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Bert Samuels believes that some fines on Jamaica's books do not reflect the current reality.

He was responding to the Jamaica Observer's queries regarding Elephant Man's alleged breach of the Immigration Act, which attracts a maximum fine of $100.

“The salary that is involved to pay the police, court officials, and other persons who are a part of the process would be more of a charge on the Treasury than anything else and would not really be any kind of penalty,” Samuels told the Jamaica Observer.

Samuels has experience in this area, as in 2017, he represented alleged Klansman leader, Tesha Miller, who was deported from The Bahamas and faced two counts of making a false declaration. He too was fined $100.

The attorney said that the fine, at the time, stirred national debate. It was reported that the Jamaican Government would revisit penalties that do not reflect the economic climate of the nation.

“Back in that time [2017] when the fine was exposed and we pleaded guilty, we were given the maximum penalty of $100. It sparked a great debate and criticism of the lowness of the fine; this was not the only Act where there were these low fines. There was a promise, that hasn't yet taken place, to revisit these fines. Parliament has a tight legislative agenda for new laws, so it seems the revision of these acts have gone on the back burner,” Samuels opined.

“Changing these Acts would come under the overhauling of outdated fines where inflation, with time, have made them ridiculous and out of line with the concept of punishment. Punishment does not always mean imprisonment but monetarily. Currently, these fines do not serve as a deterrent from crime,” he added.

According to police reports, Elephant Man (given name Oneal Bryan) arrived at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, along with an entourage. He is required by law to declare the countries he visited after leaving Jamaica.

Elephant Man was reportedly on tour in Europe, but allegedly did not follow immigration procedures.

The deejay — known for songs including Nuh Linga, Find It, Gully Creepa, and Pon de River Pon de Bank — was charged for breaching Section 8 (5) of the Immigration Act — which mandates people arriving in Jamaica to make a truthful declaration to immigration personnel — on March 23 and is now quarantined at home. He is set to appear before the court on April 15.

Europe is one of the hardest-hit regions by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany reporting thousands of cases and deaths.

Jamaica has, so far, recorded 32 people testing positive for the virus with one death.

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