KINGSTON, Jamaica – While declaring 'enough is enough', Senator Abka Fitz-Henley has declared support of plans by the Andrew Holness administration to pass legislation which seeks to increase the mandatory minimum sentence for people convicted of non-capital murder from 15 to 45 years.
He also urged the Government not to listen to a lobby group which has called for an abandonment of the plan.
The draft legislation also recommends that for non-capital murder, where the sentence given is life imprisonment, the mandatory minimum sentence be increased from 15 to 40 years.
"The Labour Party government is pursuing a policy where we are moving to increase the mandatory minimum penalty for capital and non-capital murder to life imprisonment and people so convicted are not eligible for parole before 45 and 40 years respectively. We have some lobby groups who say that is too harsh and we must turn back from that policy which we are pursuing. I want to encourage the Government of which I am a part to stay the course,” Fitz-Henley told a crowd of Jamaica Labour Party supporters during a Divisional meeting in the May Pen West area of Central Clarendon.
Fitz-Henley said in this instance, a lobby group, which has called for a reduction in the proposed mandatory minimum penalty for capital and non-capital murder, should be ignored.
He argued that it is important that the Government sends the signal that it is serious about 'drawing a line in the sand' and passing landmark legislation which sends a strong message to people who are willing to violate the most fundamental right of any citizen - the right to life - that enough is enough.
The proposal for a major increase in the mandatory minimum penalty for capital and non-capital murder convicts is currently before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament which is reviewing the Criminal Justice Act, Offences Against the Person Act and the Child Care and Protection Act.
Recently, executive director of Jamaicans for Justice, Mickel Jackson, said the mandatory minimum sentences being proposed by the government for serious offences are manifestly excessive.
Jackson said by its proposals, the government is effectively removing the discretion previously exercised by the judiciary.