New legislation soon to boost law, order
January 10, 2012
New legislation soon to boost law, order

During 2012, significant pieces of legislation are expected to be prepared as part of government’s duty to protect its citizens and defend them against any threats of national security.{{more}}

This announcement was made by Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne yesterday, while delivering the Throne Speech at the second session of the ninth Parliament.

“It is my Government’s belief that the interests of law-abiding citizens should be placed ahead of those of criminals, and every effort will be made to deter criminal activity in St Vincent and the Grenadines. My Government, therefore, places great emphasis on its policies and programmes on matters of security, law, order and justice. It is anticipated that significant pieces of legislation will be prepared in 2012,” Sir Frederick said.

Detailing the legislation to be addressed, Sir Frederick said in the area of Criminal Law Legislation, supporting infrastructure will be put in place for the more efficient disposal of criminal cases.

Reform of Criminal Law and practice continues, balancing individual rights and the protection of the community from crime.

To strengthen law and order in the Government’s good governance platform and to continue to be tough on crime and the causes of crime, new Police, Prisons and Road Trafficking Bills will be drafted.

Section 4 of the Financial Intelligence Unit Act will be amended to enhance the functions of the Financial Intelligence Unit.

Sir Frederick also said a draft Bill for the integration of the Magistracy will be reviewed, as well as Legislation to support speedier trials in the Magistracy and the High Court, thereby ensuring that there is a veritable permanent Criminal Division of the High Court.

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Magistrates Agreement 2011 was signed by the Heads of Government in May 2011. Legislation to give effect to the said Agreement and the Protocols for the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court between the Governments of the Member States and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court will be tabled for enactment in the House, the Governor General said.

To ensure that supporting infrastructure is in place for the implementation of the OECS Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project (EGRIP) Legislation, the following Bills will be tabled: Data Protection Bill, Electronic Crimes Bill, Electronic Evidence Bill, Electronic Funds Transfer Bill, Electronic Transactions Bill and the Electronic Filing Bill.

The Government will also complete the process of adopting the first four pieces of completed harmonised Model Family Legislation, two of which have already been enacted into law – the Care and Adoption Act and the Status of Children Act.

The other two remaining pieces of Legislation – the Domestic Violence Bill and the Child Justice Bill – are scheduled to be introduced in the first half of 2012. The Modern Legal Professional Bill will be enacted to regulate, monitor and foster development of the legal profession.

In Agriculture, legislation will be crafted to strengthen agricultural development in several areas. Among these items of legislation will be a review of the Cocoa Cess Act, Cap. 51, which provides payment of two cents on every pound of cocoa beans exported, the Governor General said.

Addressing the issue of regulation of broadcasting, Sir Frederick said, “Mr. Speaker, the broadcasting industry is a highly profitable industry and a powerful means of effecting cultural change. A draft Bill setting out a systematic approach to ensure the regulation and supervision of the industry will be introduced in the House this year without in any way limiting or infringing the constitutional protection on freedom of expression.”

The Cooperatives Societies Legislation will make new provision with respect to the registration, supervision, governance, operation and management of cooperatives.

Further amendments will be made to the Companies Act, Cap 143 and International Business Companies (Amendment and Consolidation) Act, Cap 149.

To ensure that St Vincent and the Grenadines is up-to-date in regional and international Treaty participation, relevant drafts of Accession and Instruments of Ratification will be prepared.

“Central to the democratic process of our nation is Electoral Reform. In 2012, my government will undertake reform of relevant electoral laws to strengthen further our democracy,” Sir Frederick said.

He also said that a Bill to finalise the procurement and contract administration procedures of government will be tabled in the House.

“This will enhance institutional capacity for project implementation.”

There will also be Amendment to the Financial Administration Act to bolster transparency and good governance in the public service.