A glaring error in an amendment to the criminal code appeared before the Senate last week Wednesday for its final vetting process. What is very disturbing about this lucid error is the fact that it went unnoticed by the legal draftsman in the Attorney-General’s office, it was read and approved in the cabinet and then it was read and approved a second time in the House of Representatives. They were aware of ambiguous language within certain amendments in the bill, nevertheless, the proposed amendment to section 174 subsection A of the criminal code took the cake. Hon Mark Lizarraga, Senator for the Business sector and Hon Lisa Shoman, Senator for the opposition pointed out this gleaming flaw.
Hon. Mark Lizarraga, Senator of the Business Sector
“As it is, it seeks to criminalize importing, exporting and transferring the ownership of goods; whether, it says, the goods are stolen or not. These Acts, Mr. President, we submit, can be done lawfully, particularly where the goods are not stolen! The proposed Section says, Mr. President that “a person who imports, exports or transfers ownership of any property goods, whether such property or good is stolen or not, commits the offence of illicit trafficking in stolen and other goods, and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term of fourteen years’. Well as of today, I stop import”.
Hon. Lisa Shoman, Senator of the People’s United Party
“You know…seriously, it can’t be the printer’s demon, man, come on! Here it is that the side note gets it correct, and yet, the section states, “a person who imports, exports or transfers ownership of any property goods…, that mean, I sell it to you or I give it to you; so, that means, if you dih giv weh, for instance, me no know, Carnation Milk? Could you fall a foul of this Section? Well, in the silly way that it’s written, I’m afraid you might very well be”.
The thing is though, that despite the discrepancy of this “ludicrous” bill (as Senator Lizarraga described it in an interview), using its government majority, the Senate still passed it. Nevertheless, Senator Godwin Hulse forestalled it by not reading the bill a third and final time. So on Wednesday, the Senators met again at the House of Representatives. Senator Hulse related to us what went on behind doors the closed doors of the House
Senator Godwin Hulse
“As you know the last Senate Meeting was held on Wednesday. We had 20 bills. One of them the Criminal Code Amendment Bill, we kept in the Committee, and didn’t take it to its third reading, because there were some amendments being proposed by Senators and they were reasonable amendments. So we held it. Today’s meeting was so that senators could reconvene the Committee of the whole, work through the proposed amendments that they have, and then we read it a third time. That Bill now goes back to the House. If the House accepts the amendments that the Senate has made, then that goes to the Governor General for signature.”