Chuck says country's outdated laws will be addressed this year

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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JUSTICE Minister Delroy Chuck has promised that several of the country's laws that need to be changed or updated will be addressed this year and that the country's legislators will start off by updating the penalties in some of the laws which need adjustments, for the first time since the country gained independence in 1962.

The minister gave this assurance at the recent opening ceremony of a two-day workshop for legal and policy officers on the Legislation Production Management System (LPMS), which is the efficiency-boosting software that will be used to improve the legislative drafting process and enable speedy amendments to bills.

“... So [following] the pleas and cries of the public [and] the media about legislations, we hope that these will be addressed and that many of our outdated laws will now be brought up to date; we're starting with the penalties in all of the different legislations,” Minister Chuck told a workshop held at the ministry in Kingston.

“We have completed the Ministry of Justice because I've been behind my legal team to make sure that it is ready and the Attorney General's chambers have complied with us and we did it at legislation committee, so the first update of the penalties will be tabled in Parliament at the next sitting.

“That's all the penalties for the Ministry of Justice. But I'm begging all of you now who represent all the different ministries, we want all the penalties to be updated this calendar year 2019,” he said.

According to the justice minister, there are about 800 laws in the ministries to be updated.

“This will be the first update since Jamaica became a colony and also since independence that many of these laws will be updated. [Some] still reflect fines in pounds and many of them reflect $2 and $20 fines, which are clearly out of date.

“So what I would like to ask the ministries, that before the end of this calendar year all the penalties be brought up to date. And in each of these laws, we will be putting in a particular provision so that they can be updated as regularly as possible,” he added.

The Law Reform Department, said Chuck, will then be mandated to look at all the laws of Jamaica so that over the next few years they can be updated.

“We have over 100 laws at the legislative stage to be passed, many of them dealing with money laundering, human trafficking, intellectual property theft, lotto scamming, you know, the list that we must ensure becomes law,” Chuck told the workshop, as he urged ministries to speed up their work so the laws can be taken to Parliament and become a part of the governance structure. “This will assist us to ensure that Jamaica is up to date with laws that will reflect modern legislation in various areas of human rights, governance, human trafficking, and generally to ensure that we have an orderly society,” said Minister Chuck.

At the same time, he said that despite ongoing criticism about the number of years that it takes to pass a bill, it is a process that requires some time as a lot of consultation and amendments are required.

“It's not an overnight activity; it goes through many different processes. But what we have now is a system that is provided by the Canadians, which will help us in this process,” he said.

Minister Chuck also used the occasion to express gratitude to the Canadian Government, which has been funding the the Justice Undertakings for Social Transformation (JUST) Programme under which the LMPS was developed.

Canadian High Commissioner Laurie Peters pledged Canada's commitment in helping to achieve th e justice reforms goal of Jamaica, with which she said Canada shares not only a long-standing and deep friendship but also basic values in legal and parliamentary systems.

“We continue to work together in trade, in good governance and of course, justice reforms. And this is what we have in terms of deep and long, strong relations; I like to think of them, as well, as also very much forward-looking and dynamic. You all know one of our main thrusts has been to support the Government of Jamaica with the implementation of the justice reform agenda and we have been consistent and, I think, highly responsive in our efforts as well,” she said.

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