The Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, 2020 in which Government seeks to counterbalance the risks in decreasing the prison population during the COVID-19 pandemic may be taken to Parliament next week. The upcoming parliamentary sitting will also address the Administration of Justice (Electronic Monitoring) Amendment Bill of 2020, which was laid earlier this year.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said that the amendments for the latest bill were already drafted, however, he waited for additional commentary from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and a few stakeholders.
It will be presented to Cabinet this week, following which, leaders of government business in the House of Representatives and the Senate will set the dates for the sittings.
It was during last Friday’s Ministry of Health virtual news conference that Al-Rawi announced that Parliament will convene to discuss these matters that are critical to the government’s fight against COVID-19.
“The leaders of government business in both houses are coordinating this now. The Bill will be taken to Cabinet this week and it will be approved. The Cabinet is flexible so it can be on any day. Once it is approved this week, it will be sent to the Parliament. The leaders of both houses will coordinate the dates on which these things happen. The Bill (Miscellaneous Provision) was long ready but I awaited some commentary from the DPP and some stakeholders to include,” Al Rawi said.
Among the issues to be addressed is the expiry of the limitation of certain actions. For instance, action cannot be brought against some contracts after the expiry of four years, according to the Limitation of Certain Actions Act.
Al-Rawi explained that the law has exceptions, therefore allowing people to argue their cases in court. But with limited court operations due to Government’s Stay-at-Home measures, Al-Rawi said there is a need to extend the expiry of those limitations.
He said the Bill also seeks to extend the validity of documents in the Companies Registry.
Regarding the Electronic Monitoring Bill, he said the amendments will aid the government in the release of prisoners and helps to protect domestic violence victims who have protection orders against their abusers.
Government is operationalising 300 ankle monitors which will be distributed on a phased basis. Al-Rawi used the example that where an abuser wears an ankle monitor and approaches a female victim who is equipped with a bracelet, she along with the police will be alerted. He explained that because of GPS technology, police would be able to locate the person and respond quickly.
This, the AG said will save lives.