First Look

Measures recommended to improve adjudication of praedial larceny cases



Ministry Of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fish | 2016-05-27 00:00:00

The establishment of specialized Parish Courts for Praedial Larceny and specialized training for clerks of courts in the prosecution of praedial larceny cases, along with accompanying manuals, are among the actions being recommended to reduce the incidence of the crime on Jamaica’s agricultural sector.

The recommendations were made at a three-day workshop, held May13-15 as part of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries ongoing public education and sensitization programme being managed by its  Praedial Larceny Prevention Coordination Unit (PLPU). The workshop featured presentations and case studies from the FAO, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Public Health Department and the Fisheries and Veterinary Services Divisions of the Ministry.   Participants included parish court judges from across the island, attorneys from the private Bar and representatives from the Ministry of Justice.

In addition to the call for continued stakeholder sensitization and public education programmes, it was also recommended that specific courts be identified in each parish to hear and determine praedial larceny cases twice per month.

It was also proposed that a victim and witness care centre should be established to serve as a single point of contact to keep victims and witnesses informed of the progress of their cases.

As it relates to evidence, it was also recommended that the police should seek advice from the Clerks of Courts and the DPP’s office, if necessary, with regard to the cogency and admissibility of evidence. An amendment of existing legislation to allow victims to give impact statements at the sentencing hearing of a convicted person and revision of the current legislation, to give wider sentencing options to Judges were among the recommendations made.

Speaking at the workshop, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry, the Hon J.C. Hutchinson, emphasized the need to place greater focus on the end-users of stolen agricultural produce and livestock, while increasing the fines to make them more prohibitive. Minister Hutchinson also recommended the establishment of a praedial larceny court and a “name and shame” strategy. With a more, structured agricultural sector with production taking place in agro-economic zones and produce being transported in licensed trucks, Minister Hutchinson said this should lead to a decrease in the incidences of praedial larceny.

For her part, Chief Justice, the Hon. Zaila McCalla commented on the public health risks associated with praedial larceny and welcomed the workshop as another opportunity to heighten awareness of not just the economic, but also emotional trauma and distress caused by the crime.

The Chief Justice pointed out that sometimes it was difficult to establish ownership of the stolen items and that the prosecution and adjudication of praedial larceny cases very often required intensive investigation and  the provision of adequate evidence.

In its bid to reduce incidences of praedial larceny in Jamaica, the PLPU, which was established in March 2015, has to date conducted sensitization workshops with 26 clerks of the court, 46 judges and over 600 police officers.  The Unit is reporting a 14% reduction in praedial larceny cases since its establishment.




Posted By :Ministry Fisheries

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