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Spreading HIV could become a crime in Jamaica

CHANGES: Jamaica

KNOWINGLY INFECTING someone with HIV could become a crime in Jamaica - that’s if the Government accepts a recommendation made by a parliamentary committee that has been reviewing several pieces of legislation over the last two years.

The committee have reviewed the Offences Against the Person Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Child Care and Protection Act, and have acknowledged there was a deficiency in the law in relation to the deliberate spreading of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, Caribbean360 reports.

According to the website, it said “the Offences Against the Person Act should be amended to make it a criminal offence for someone to willfully or recklessly infect a partner with a sexually transmissible disease which can inflict serious bodily harm, as is the case in other jurisdictions like Canada and the United Kingdom”.

In addition, the committee made several other recommendations, including wanting to include a penalty or life imprisonment for non-consensual anal penetration.

“We wanted to include a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for forced anal penetration, and sought to achieve this by recommending that non-consensual anal penetration be treated as an element of grievous sexual assault, with an expressed intent that this should not be construed as impliedly amending or repealing any provision in the Offences Against the Person Act, since this would be a different offence from buggery,” it reported.

“We were advised that taking this approach may not have the desired effect, because any attempt to amend the law, so as to recognise difference between consensual and forced anal penetration, could be interpreted as impliedly amending the buggery law, thereby creating the possibility that the provision could lose the protection under the Saving Laws Clause, and could therefore be open to challenge.

“We also learnt that amending the law in this manner would be incompatible with the current policy position of the Government that the provisions related to buggery be put to a referendum with other matters of broad public divide,” it added.

The committee also suggested that any amendment of the existing law concerning abortion should be examined “by Parliament as a whole”.

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