Ministry clarifies expungement of convictions under Criminal Records Bill
The Ministry of Justice has issued a clarification in relation to the expungement of convictions related to sexual offences vis-à-vis the expungement of convictions for the use of small quantities of ganja under the provisions of the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Bill, which was approved by the Senate on July 4.
The response from the ministry's senior public relations officer, Damian Wilson, was to an article headlined 'Committee begins reviewing Sexual Offences Act', which was published on Friday, July 11 in the Jamaica Observer, and which stated:
"Last Friday, as the Senate passed the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) (Amendment) Act, minister of justice Senator Mark Golding, who will chair the committee, revealed that it is expected to address the issue of whether persons who commit sexual offences under the influence of ganja should be allowed to have their convictions expunged from the criminal records."
The ministry explained that the expungement of the offence of having sex with someone under 16 years of age was separate from the discussion on ganja, and the minister did not conflate the two issues during the debate on the Bill in the Senate.
"The Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) (Amendment) Bill deals with expungement of convictions for possession of small quantities of ganja, or smoking ganja. The Bill also (entirely and separately) deals with the possibility of a conviction for the offence of having sex with someone under 16 years old being expunged, if certain conditions are satisfied (in essence, if it is a teenage boyfriend/girlfriend situation and the teenagers are not more than three years apart).
"These issues are not connected, and at no point did the minister say or suggest that persons who commit sexual offences under the influence of ganja should be allowed to have their convictions expunged."