Minister Kellier, who was addressing a praedial larceny sensitisation seminar for members of the judiciary held at the Runaway Bay Jewel Resort in St. Ann on Saturday, January 16, said the move is aimed at increasing convictions for farm theft.
He said concerns have been raised that the laws are too complicated thereby creating challenges for law enforcement.
“It would appear that the laws that impact praedial larceny prevention are complicated and multi-faceted in implementation and are creating some challenges for the enforcement officers. Praedial larceny cases are often thrown out of court because the wrong charges are assigned to offences and enforcement officers are forced to pull on different pieces of legislation in order to maximize conviction,” he said.
Minister Kellier said the sensitisation of Resident Magistrates and Clerk of Courts should ensure that among other things, they will be able to apply the correct penalties to persons found guilty of praedial larceny and also increase the rate at which cases are disposed of in the courts.
Citing statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, (JCF), Minister Kellier noted that praedial larceny cases go through the justice system at a “very slow pace.”
“Bails, delays and postponements, which are common in praedial larceny cases, have exacerbated the situation, as it provides added opportunities for praedial larcenists to continue stealing farmers’ and fishers’ produce…reportedly, there are times when the entire harvest is taken by the same thief while he is on bail,” he noted.
“The continued upward trend of praedial larceny incidences, some of which are committed by repeat offenders, suggests that thieves are not deterred by the penalties that are awarded,” the Minister said further.