The Kidnapping Bill and what it entails (Pt 1)
- Aspects the public should know
Guyana Chronicle
October 22, 2003

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GEORGETOWN (GINA) -- On June 5, 2003 the Kidnapping Bill was passed in Parliament. This followed the escalation in crime, with a high incidence of kidnapping.

The Government recognized the need for firmer action against this form of criminal activity.

The Kidnapping Bill No. 15 of 2002 is part of a total package to deal with this phenomenon.

Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj, at the second reading, told the Assembly this legislation became necessary since wealthy businessmen and even those who are not so wealthy have been taken and held for ransom, sometimes involving millions of dollars.

The Kidnapping Bill provides punishment for the offences of abduction, wrongful restraint and confinement for ransom, and other related offences, and may be cited as the Kidnapping Act 2003.

There are three 'key' words very crucial to the Act. These are abduction, wrongful restraint and wrongful confinement.

Abduction may be interpreted as the act by someone who by force or fear, compels, or by deceitful means, induces a person to go from one place to another.

Wrongful restraint is the act of someone unlawfully obstructing any person, so as to prevent that person from proceeding in any direction in which that person has a right to proceed, and wrongfully restraining that person.

Whoever wrongfully restrains any person in such a manner as to prevent that person from proceeding beyond certain circumscribing limits, is wrongfully confining that person.

It is very important to note that the penalties for these offences are severe.

Someone charged with the offence of wrongful confinement faces a fine of up to $250,000. Likewise, someone charged with the offence of wrongful restraint can be fined up to $100,000.

And in the case of abduction, a fine of $750,000 and imprisonment of five years will be imposed on any person found guilty of the offence.

In the case of someone abducting, wrongfully restraining or wrongfully confining someone for monetary gain/ransom, a fine of ten million dollars together with imprisonment for not less that 15 and no more than 25 years will be imposed on the guilty person/s involved.

Any person, who knowingly receives the ransom money, if convicted, on indictment, will be fined equivalent to the ransom delivered or seven million dollars; whichever is greater, together with imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

It must be noted that persons who knowingly negotiate or assist in any negotiations to obtain any ransom for the release of any persons who have been wrongfully confined, and if he/she is convicted of the offence, will be fined no more than one million dollars and imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years.

However, it is important to note, that the above mentioned conviction does not apply to someone who in good faith negotiates or assist in negotiations on behalf of the kidnapped person.

It is the duty of persons to give information to the Police that would assist them in apprehending persons involved in abducting someone.

Therefore, the Kidnapping Bill has made provision that in absence of a reasonable excuse anyone fails to provide the Police with information will be fined if convicted two hundred thousand dollars or an imprisonment term not exceeding one year or both.

Protection is a key area that the Police have considered and the Bill provides for the protection of informers. No witness shall be obliged or permitted to disclose the name or address of any informer, or state any matters, which might lead to his discovery.

Persons can be assured that if in any court proceedings there is a possibility that they would have to be identified, the Court, before which the proceeding is heard shall cause all such passages to be concealed from view as is necessary to protect the informer from discovery, but no further.

However, if there is a trial and after full inquiry into the case it is the opinion that the informer made a statement that he/she knew or believe to be false, or in the Courts opinion that justice cannot be fully done without the identity of the informer, the Court may require the production of the original complaint, if in writing, and permit inquiry; and require full disclosure concerning the informer.

In relation to bail, unless the contrary is proved to the satisfaction of a court, person (s) charged with the following offence (s): abduction, wrongful restraint or wrongful confinement for ransom; knowingly receive ransom and knowingly negotiate to obtain or payment for ransom, they shall not be granted bail pending the final determination of any charge laid.