An international legal consultant has been retained to review the Summary Jurisdiction Offences Act, with a view towards removing offences which should no longer be considered criminal acts.
State Minister Joseph Harmon made the disclosure during a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday, while announcing the multi-million dollars contracts which received “no-objections” after being awarded by the procurement entities and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
Under the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Harmon said Peter Pursglove, S.C, was awarded a US$87,440 contract for the provision of consultancy services for the review of the legislation and to recommend amendments.
Harmon explained that the objective of the consultancy is to undertake a comprehensive review of the Act in order to “flag” for legislative review offences that no longer need to be classified as criminal acts. He said that some acts may no longer justify imprisonment as a sanction and can be processed efficiently without the need for formal court proceedings.
The archaic provisions of the Act have come in for scrutiny in light of the challenge to its provisions criminalising cross-dressing by both men and women, which is now before the Caribbean Court of Justice. Discharging a cannon within 300 yards of a dwelling house, loitering about a shop, and behaving irreverently around a place of worship are among some of the activities that are offences under the Act.
Meanwhile, Harmon said a $28.9 million contract was awarded under the Ministry of Social Protection to PD Construction for the rehabilitation of the New Opportunity Corps (NOC). He later explained that under this contract, buildings and other physical facilities will be rehabilitated at the juvenile correctional facility.
Additionally, he also noted that under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, a $108 million contract was awarded to Guyana National Industrial Company Incorporated for the docking and rehabilitation of the MV Steve N.