Minimum of 15 years jail proposed for ransom kidnapping
December 11, 2002
The Kidnapping Bill 2002 laid in the National Assembly last week states that anyone found guilty of kidnapping for ransom will receive no less than 15 years in prison and a $10M fine.
The bill introduces in statutory form the common law offence of kidnapping and among other things provides for safeguarding the identity of an informer and imposing the duty on a person who knows of an offence provided for in the bill to inform the police about it. It also provides for a person who knowingly receives or disposes of any proceeds from a ransom to be guilty of an offence.
Under the provisions of the bill a person, who holds another for ransom, abducts or wrongfully restrains that person or confines that person, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of $10 million together with imprisonment not less than 15 years and not more than 20 years.
The bill defines abduction as the act of compelling a person either by force or fear or by deceit to go from any place and a person found guilty of abduction with the intent to wrongfully confine will be liable to a five-year term of imprisonment together with a fine of $750,000.
It defines wrongful restraint as the act of unlawfully obstructing a person “so as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed”. A person found guilty on indictment for doing so is “liable on summary conviction to a fine of $100,000 and to imprisonment for three years”.
Under the bill provision is also made for a person who wrongfully confines a person to be liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment for five years. The bill defines wrongful confinement as the wrongful restraint of a person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits.
The clause which offers protection to an informer says, “Subject to this section, no complaint as to an offence under this Act shall be admitted in evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding whatsoever, and no witness shall be obliged or permitted to disclose the name and address of any informer, or state any matter which might lead to his discovery.”
It also provides for the Court to conceal or obliterate as far as is necessary in any documents before it, those passages which could reveal details about the informer. However, it also provides for the Court to require full disclosure about an informer where that person, if in its opinion he or she made any material statement, which he or she knew or believed to be false, or did not believe to be true.
The clause imposing a duty on a person who has knowledge of an offence provided for in the bill says, “in the absence of reasonable excuse, the burden of proving which shall lie upon the person so aware, (the person shall) forthwith give information to a police officer of such commission or intention, as the case may be.”
The bill provides for a person who fails to do so to be liable on conviction “to a fine not exceeding $200,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.”
The provision, which deals with a person knowingly receiving or disposing of a ransom says, “Whoever receives, has possession of or disposes of any money or property or any proceeds thereof, which has at any time been delivered as ransom in any offence punishable under section 9, knowing that the money or other property has at any time been delivered as such ransom, shall be guilty of an offence.” Upon conviction that person is liable to a “fine equivalent to the ransom delivered or to $7M, whichever is greater, together with imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.”