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DPP not consulted when legislative amendments done to criminal laws

The building that houses the Office of the DPP

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit has called for better consultation with her office after claiming she was left out of the drafting of amendments to the outdated Criminal Procedure Act.

The DPP appeared before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) recently and described a number of legislative shortcomings that have negatively impacted the effective functioning of her office.

Asked by COI attorney, Bilal Rawat, whether her office is consulted when changes are made to the Criminal Code, the DPP said this doesn’t happen as much as it should be.

“Where it is necessary to get our support, we’re informed – ‘this is a bill and we want you to look at it’ – but when it comes to what I refer to as the piecemeal amendments to the criminal code, especially to make things right, for lack of better phrasing … we are not consulted,” she said.

“I am aware of other legislation passed — firearms amendments and other things — where amendments were made and we find out with the rest of the members of the public. We’re not told. And we are the ones that have to go out there,” she added.

The DPP said most times her office is not properly consulted on legislative amendments and they would at times belatedly get legislation that was already read for the first time in the House of Assembly. She said it is only then officials come saying, “Hey we have this piece of legislation, what you think of it?”.

She said if her office gives feedback that the proposed amendments can’t work, this then stalemates the process of getting the legislation passed.

Scatliffe-Esprit said her office was, however, consulted on the recent Terrorism Financing Act but said, most times, especially with amendments to the criminal code, her office is “left out of the equation”.

Revamp or remove criminal code completely

When asked what she would like done to the 1997 Criminal Code, the DPP responded: “It needs to be revamped, probably trashed and bring in something brand new.”

She stated that the legislation is outdated, particularly with regard to sexual offences.

“They’re all gender-based. That’s not how it is now with sexual offences. Someone should be able to be charged with sexual offences regardless if they’re a man or a woman, or whether that victim is a girl child or a boy child,” the DPP stated.

According to Scatliffe-Esprit, the current criminal code describes rape as vaginal rape. 

“Rape has become something universal now — that expands that. There is nothing for sodomy, there is nothing for buggery. If there is a buggery charge, we actually have to go to the offences against a person act, which was repealed except for the section on buggery,” she said.

The DPP also said the sentences for most of the offences are outdated while some offences, such as that of kidnapping needs to be simplified.

“The way it is written and is drafted is very difficult to prove as it is,” she stated.


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  1. Rubber Duck says:

    That missing O says everything about our government.

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