Key law changes to support `public safety'
-- Luncheon
Guyana Chronicle
August 8, 2002

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THE Government's proposal to revise key legislation "to support public safety" is intended to make prosecution "simple and easy", to impose "draconian" sentencing on those who create public disorder, and to minimise the discretion of judges and magistrates in imposing penalties for crimes that "offend" public order and safety, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon said yesterday.

One of the proposals that will make prosecution easier and simpler is the amendment to the Evidence Act, he said.

Dr. Luncheon said that the proposal for amendment to the Evidence Act is to make admissible evidence that is currently not admissible.

This, he said includes, output of information and communications technology - computer generated reports, tapes, pictures and similar imaging materials that are currently not accepted as evidence in local courts.

Luncheon said that Guyana is lagging way behind when it comes to the Evidence Act, adding that the proposed amendment is the first step in ensuring that Guyana catches up with what has been practiced in regional and international jurisdictions for decades now.

The amendments to the Evidence Act, the Racial Hostility Act and the Criminal Law (Offences) Act, were proposed by a specially convened Cabinet action group and were considered by Cabinet at an extraordinary session last Saturday.

After looking over the legal remedies available, the action group decided to propose the amendments "in the context of the anti-social and criminal occurrences that have recently bedeviled Guyanese society", Luncheon said.

He said the proposed amendments will also improve and enhance the activities of community policing groups and the Government's resolve to expedite the issuance of firearm licences to those who qualify.

Further, he said, the amendments seek to safeguard public and private property and re-emphasise the sacredness of private and public property.

Under the Racial Hostility Act, the proposed amendments will substantially increase the penalties for offences committed under the Act.

The definition of `record' would be widened to include any film, negative or tape so that persons who commit an offence under the Act by publishing any such material may be found guilty.

The proposed amendments will also give victims the right to seek compensation in the court.

Under the Criminal Law (Offences) Act, the amendments will allow for the monitoring of deportees here.

The Government has said there is a clear link between crime in Guyana and deportees.