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Judicial CP - February 2013

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Sunday Observer, Kingston, 17 February 2013

No more flogging

Senate votes to end whipping as a punishment for criminals

By Balford Henry
Sunday Observer senior reporter

Click to enlarge

THE Senate on Friday approved the removal of flogging and whipping as punishments for crime from the law books.

The process involved amendments to the Larceny Act and the Obeah Act, as well as the passage of a new bill repealing all legislation that make provisions for flogging and whipping in judicial sentencing. It also amended provisions of enactments relating and referring to flogging and whipping as penalties for criminal offences.

Minister of Justice Senator Mark Golding, who piloted the amendments, noted that the changes were necessary in order for the country to ratify the United Nations' Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

He pointed out that the beating of a convict in 1995 led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to conclude that the flogging "...was cruel, inhuman and degrading" and violated the convict's human rights.

Senator Golding said that the UN committee also felt that corporal punishment was contrary to Article 7 of the international covenant, and recommended that steps be taken by the government to prevent similar violations.

Following this, in 1998, 10 convicts appealed their being sentenced to lashes. After hearing the case of labourer Noel Samuda, who was convicted of rape and burglary, the Appeal Court ruled that the laws allowing flogging had expired after World War II and that the Constitution did not allow for flogging as criminal punishment.

Leader of Government Business AJ Nicholson claimed that the decision to table the amendments was more in keeping with the general opposition to flogging as punishment in Jamaica, than with the need to observe the UN convention.

Opposition Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte, a former resident magistrate, cautioned that while she supported the move to end flogging, a vacuum was being left for judges dealing with certain cases, including praedial larceny, which carried flogging sentences.

"We need to search for effective answers to the challenges that we face in dealing with these issues," she argued.

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