Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Several bills are to be tabled in the National Assembly today, said Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC.
One is the Restorative Justice Bill. The bill will see the establishment of a body to administer the new act, as well as educate citizens on the relatively new concept of restorative justice.
According to the United Nations “Restorative justice is an inclusive, flexible and participatory approach to crime that can be complementary or an alternative to the conventional criminal justice process. It provides an opportunity to all affected parties – offenders, victims, their families and the community – to participate in addressing the crime and repairing the harm caused by it. It is also often the only, or one of very few, measures available for victims to participate in the resolution of a case and seek redress. Underpinning restorative justice is the understanding that criminal behaviour not only breaches the law, but also harms victims and the community.”
The AG said criminologists, sociologists, and psychologists played major roles in the process, and all the analyses have concluded the traditional and conventional punitive penal sanctions have not been as effective as they should have been. “Therefore, they are exploring newer, more modern concepts of a softer nature directed more to the rehabilitative component rather than the punitive component of punishment,” he explained.
Also, on the Order Paper is an amendment to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Control Act 1999. The government is admitting the need to stop incarcerating persons, particularly, young people for a protracted period for possession of small quantities of marijuana.
Other Caribbean countries have moved ahead of Guyana with decriminalising small quantities of this substance and cultivating the product on a commercial scale.
Presently, 30 grammes and less carry a prison sentence of three to five years. With the amendment persons in possession of 15 to 30 grammes of marijuana will receive community service sentences, while those in possession of 15 or fewer grammes will be prescribed counselling.
The reconstructed Domestic Violence Act is also expected to be tabled. According to the government, although the extant Domestic Violence legislation has a more civil component to it, as opposed to a penal one, the new legislation will contain both.
The Bail Bill, among other bills, is also slated for debate.