Obeah and whipping can't help us now!

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 28, 2013

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OPPOSITION Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz has criticised his colleagues in Parliament for focusing on three bills removing flogging from the criminal law books, while ignoring more current issues like crime and the economy.

On Tuesday, Vaz told the House, during the debate on the Bills, that while the removal of flogging from criminal laws was important, he felt that the timing was bad when crime and the economy were more pressing problems demanding the immediate attention of Parliament.

"When you have the NHT issue that is on the minds of everybody in Jamaica and the hottest topic item in Jamaica, and we are here talking about obeah and whipping! I am not saying it should not be addressed. All I am saying is that with the limited time that we meet, and the amount of legislation that we have left over from successive administrations, serious times require serious actions," Vaz told the House.

He noted the urgency with which two bills — the Larceny Act and the Obeah Act — were amended and a new Law Reform bill repealing all legislation with provisions for flogging and whipping was passed over the last two weeks, and questioned whether the public agreed that they were priorities.

"Is this something that we need to be doing at this time in 2013, when we have some of the greatest challenges, not only facing the world but facing our beloved country?" he asked, noting that there were long outstanding crime bills to be tabled and debated.

"The fact of the matter is that it (flogging) has been on the books for time immemorial, and the truth of the matter is that neither the obeah, neither the backra master nor the slave can help us now as we speak in 2013," he contended.

"As legislators we need to make sure... to get our house in order and get to some serious business," he concluded.

The three bills, which were passed by the Senate on February 15, were eventually passed by the House of Representatives yesterday.




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