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Supporting the legislative drafting needs of Jamaica's Ministry of Justice

The Government of Jamaica requested technical assistance to enable the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to be better able to respond to the legislative drafting needs of Jamaica.
Country: Jamaica
Host: Office of the Parliamentary Counsel 
Start date: 8/1/2012
End date: 7/1/2016
Policy area: Rule of Law
Policy expert: Steven Malby
Project manager: Pauline Campbell
Background

The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) is the department of Government, within the Ministry of Justice which is charged with the responsibility for legislative drafting. It consists of a cadre of parliamentary counsels headed by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) and supported by administrative and secretariat staff.

Its mission is to facilitate the Government’s request for the preparation of draft legislation in fulfilment of its annual legislative programme. In pursuance of policy decisions at the Ministry level, the OPC gives counsel to Parliament in the exercise of its law-making powers by providing advice on the draft bills it seeks to enact. In carrying out these functions, the OPC drafts Bills and subsidiary legislation on instructions from client Ministries, advises Ministries on points of law relevant to proposed legislation, and examines and comments on all draft Cabinet submissions related to legislation. 

The Government of Jamaica has articulated various legislative measures to address the growing crime rate, tackle corruption, introduce constitutional changes, address gaps in social protection, as well as those required by international conventions to which Jamaica is a signatory. The Government’s National Security Policy has recorded the need for legislation to be continuously reviewed and revised as offenders use new methodologies, technology and other creative ways to avoid prosecution. There is therefore a significant and growing demand for new and revised legislation to treat the above issues.

Goal

The purpose of the CFTC project is to strengthen the Government of Jamaica’s ability to respond to the increasing demands for timely and effective legislation. The goal is to enhance the capacity of the Government of Jamaica to develop effective legislation in a timely manner. 

The primary focus will be on supplementing the legislative drafting capacity of the Ministry of Justice and in particular the OPC, in the effective and efficient preparation of legislation, notably, criminal and anti-corruption legislation. 

Impact

Impact will be evidenced by more effective, efficient and equitable public governance and, with national institutions effectively facilitating the administration and delivery of rule of law and justice. 

Emerging longer term benefits include:

  • Significant reduction in overt types of corruption in Government;
  • Enforcement of effective legislation relating to crime and anti-corruption;
  • Gradual change in public attitude, through public education and awareness campaigns as is provided for in the Integrity Commission Bill, to no longer tolerating corruption as a way of life and supporting the fight against corruption and, in addition, to be willing to report acts of corruption;
  • More effective policy analysis and policy development and greater understanding of the function of the role of the OPC.

From commencement, capacity building has improved with the training of legal and administrative personnel in the preparation of adequate drafting instructions and the drafting of legislation relating to crime and anti-corruption. This will serve to bolster capacity within the OPC and in the ministries and departments of Government. 

With the approval for passage into law of the Evidence Special Measures (Video Recorded Evidence) (Criminal Proceedings) Regulations and Rules 2015, there will now be afforded to vulnerable witnesses, (children, persons who are mentally or physically challenged, and persons who have been raped or sexual assaulted) some form of protection in the criminal justice system.

Such legislation stands to enhance the justice system in Jamaica and assist with the backlog of cases before the court.  The latter is especially true in relation to the amendment to the Criminal Justice Administration Act which provides for the discount in sentencing. 

Results/Outputs

During the tenure of this programme, much has been done to combat crime and corruption with the implementation of numerous pieces of significant legislation and the ongoing development of policy and legislative action in matters relating to the same. The following bills listed hereunder were prepared under the project.  Most of these bills have been given the force and effect of law in Jamaica.

  • Committal Proceedings Act, 2012
  • Shipping (Prevention and Pollution of the Sea) Bill
  • Fair Competition (Amendment) Bill
  • Pesticides and Tissue Chemicals Regulations, 2012
  • Evidence (Special Measures) Act, 2012
  • Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Specified Provisions) Act, 2012
  • Criminal Justice (Administration)(Amendment) Act, 2015
  • Integrity Commission Bill
  • Evidence (Special Measures) (Video Recorded Evidence) (Criminal Proceedings) Regulations, 2015
  • Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Suppression and Punishment) (Amendment) Act, 2013
  • Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) (Amendment) Act, 2015
  • Judicature (Appellate Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Act, 2015
  • Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2015
  • Shipping (Prevention of Pollution of the Sea) Bill
  • Fisheries Bill
  • General Partnership Act, 2016
  • Limited Partnership Act, 2016
  • Pensions Bill
  • Sexual Harassment Bill

The success of this project was a result of the commitment of the Government of Jamaica in formulating policies and drafting legislation relating to crime and corruption. Numerous successes may be highlighted with the passing of many pieces of legislation relating to crime and corruption that were prepared with the assistance provided by the CFTC under this project. 

Some highlighted achievements include: 

  • The Evidence (Special Measures) Act, which introduces new technology in the Courts by allowing witnesses, deemed to be vulnerable to give evidence by live link or video link, or both, has been welcomed by the Courts and the Ministry of National Security. This Act, will allow evidence to be given in a remote manner, and as a result, will enable the security forces to successfully prosecute alleged offenders. 
  • With the approval for passage into law of the Evidence Special Measures (Video Recorded Evidence) (Criminal Proceedings)) Regulations and Rules 2015, there will now be afforded to vulnerable witnesses, (children, persons who are mentally or physically challenged, and persons who have been raped or sexual assaulted) some form of protection in the criminal justice system. Such legislation stands to enhance the justice system in Jamaica and assist with the backlog of cases before the court.  The latter is especially true in relation to the amendment to the Criminal Justice Administration Act which provides for the discount in sentencing.
  • Since the passage of the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act, a Task Force has been established to investigate lottery scammers and has made major dents in their operations as a result of the work that is being carried out under the newly formed Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Unit in the Ministry of National Security (This body may soon be given statutory authority). Under this Unit, key documents, equipment.
  • With the passage of the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act, 39 major operations were carried out by the Task Force, which seriously disrupted several criminal networks engaging in scamming.  The Task Force recovered lead lists with approximately 1.2 million names, arrested 367 persons, charged some 102 persons for related offences seized 32 million dollars in cash, 121 motor vehicle and numerous firearms. The initiatives shown in the preparation of this legislation have been bolstered by the provision of funding, technical assistance, training opportunities and equipment to strengthen capacity to identify and prosecute scammers.
  • As a result of the drafting of the Integrity Commission Act, Jamaica is now being perceived as moving forward in combating corruption and building integrity after nine years of being in the same position.  The Corruption Perception Index ranked Jamaica 69th among the 168 countries that were assessed in 2015.  This is 16 places higher than it did on the previous index.  No other country in the Americas has made such an improvement.

Impact will be evidenced by more effective, efficient and equitable public governance, and, with national institutions effectively facilitating the administration and delivery of the rule of law and justice. Emerging longer term benefits include:

  • Significant reduction in overt types of corruption in Government.
  • Enforcement of effective legislation relating to crime and anti-corruption.
  • Gradual change in public attitude, through public education and awareness campaigns as is provided for in the Integrity Commission Bill, to no longer tolerating corruption as a way of life and support the fight against corruption and, in addition, to be willing to report acts of corruption.
  • Protecting vulnerable victims in the criminal justice system.
  • Reduction in the backlog of cases before the courts.
  • More effective policy analysis and policy development and greater understanding of the function of the role of the OPC. 

From commencement, capacity building has improved with the training of legal and administrative personnel in the preparation of adequate drafting instructions and the drafting of legislation relating to crime and anti-corruption.  This will serve to bolster capacity within the OPC and in the ministries and departments of Government.

The primary beneficiaries of this project were the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, Drafting Unit and the Ministry of Justice. In addition, general government ministries, departments and parliament would also benefit. The secondary beneficiaries constituted various stakeholders including the Private Bar, the Office of Public Prosecution, the Judiciary, other legal fraternity, human rights organisations, the private sector (investors and tourists who contribute significantly to Jamaica’s economy) and non-government organisations. The ultimate beneficiaries are the citizens of Jamaica.