National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, will be piloting several pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives that are critical in bolstering public safety and citizen security.
Key among these are the Criminal Justice Suppression of Criminal Organisations (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (Anti-Gang Bill); the Firearms Licensing Act; amendments to the Trafficking In Persons Act; the Corrections Act; and regulations for the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).
Dr. Chang provided details during his 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 25), under the theme ‘Plan, Secure Jamaica… Towards Safer Communities’.
He said that debate on amendments to the Anti-Gang Bill, which was tabled on April 27, will get under way on Wednesday (May 26), while the Firearms Act will be brought to Parliament in a few weeks.
“I have had extensive cross-discussion [on the Firearms Act] with the Legal Reform Department in the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s Department, where it is now, and, of course, the support and work of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. All agencies worked well and we are on the last round. I’m assured that in a few weeks, it will be in the House,” he noted.
Turning to the Trafficking in Persons Act, Dr. Chang said it is proposed to amend the legislation to replace the option of fines with custodial sentences “except for corporate bodies that may be charged from time to time”.
He emphasised that trafficking in persons is high on the Government’s agenda, noting that “[we recognise] our obligation to put the requisite measures in place to eliminate or minimise the incidents of human trafficking within our country”.
Dr. Chang noted that the policy for Trafficking in Persons is now near completion and is to be taken to Cabinet, pointing out that this will be completed by the second quarter of the current fiscal year.
In addition, he said that the Chairmanship of the National Task Force Against Trafficking In Persons has been returned to the Ministry under the leadership of Permanent Secretary, Courtney Williams.
Dr. Chang further informed that work to develop the investigation and prosecution regulations for MOCA is in its final stages and will be in the House “very shortly”, while proposed amendments to the Corrections Act to address the movement of contraband into facilities “should be here pretty soon, as well”.
The National Security Minister highlighted several other critical pieces of legislation on which work will be or is being pursued.
They include amendments to the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) and Aliens Act, which is in the final stages of consultation; the new Visa Policy; further amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act, Interception of Communications Act; a modern Intelligence Act; and repeal and replacement of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Act.
“The Ministry of National Security is developing policies that are relevant to the times… while providing security to our people,” Dr. Chang said.