Sinclair wants stricter punishment for terrorists, backs security minister
Senator Charles Sinclair

Government Senator Charles Sinclair wants the Administration and the legislature to amend the terrorism prevention law to include penalties for perpetrators of acts such as those unleashed on patrons at a football match in Spring Village, St Catherine, last weekend.

"We must tweak the Terrorism Prevention Act to include situations where persons who go out and create mayhem and conduct themselves in this terrorist type of way as we saw in Spring Village," declared Sinclair.

"If you go and shoot up a place with five persons, categorise that under this legislation so that in addition to any other charges that they may face, that they also face one of being a terrorist," the senator told colleagues at the closing of the debate on the Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act 2022.

He said the Terrorism Prevention Act does not capture situations where persons arrested and charged for the commission of acts such as that which occurred in Spring Village, which impacted not just that community.

Referring to the Spring Village shooting attack in which three persons were killed and several others injured, Sinclair said: "It limits our description of terrorism, where it arises in a situation that has a political background, religious background, or ideological objective," he noted.

Furthermore, he supported the charge issued by National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang to the police not to back down from gunmen, for which the minister has come under fire from various sectors of the society, some from the legal fraternity, the church, and human rights activists.

"I don't think that the comments were wrong. Why is it that all the persons [who spoke] didn't send out a message — 'do not take up guns after the police'. I thought that would have been the more likely message that we should have been getting across the country," he remarked.

The 2005 Terrorism Prevention Act was last amended in 2011, to clarify and expand on the obligation of financial institutions to report on any unusual or suspicious transactions.

In fact, he said, Parliament should also look at creating other pieces of legislation such as offences for harbouring criminals, to punish those who hide wanted persons, something he intimated could result in clashes with the police.

"Anyone who harbours a person who is put on a wanted list and made public – they must face severe penalties. If you're a mother, if you're father, and the police have an interest in your son, take in the person and then we may reduce the possibility of engagement and persons dying as a result of that engagement. "So if you love your son, if you love your husband and your police has an interest in them, walk them to the station, get somebody to assist in that process and take in the person," Senator Sinclair urged.

Additionally, he said other pieces of legislation such as the Offences Against the Person Act need to be amended, to include harsher penalties for murder, saying: "Presently we have mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years for shooting with intent, and wounding with intent. If we are giving 15 years for possession of firearm, the sentence has to go up under that particular legislation because it cannot remain as it is currently," he stated.

By Alphea Sumner Senior reporter sumnera@jamaicaobserver.com

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login

HOUSE RULES

  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy