AG: Law reform divided into three blocks – age of consent up first

AG: Law reform divided into three blocks – age of consent up first

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Attorney General Ryan Pinder said yesterday that as the government reviews legislative reforms ranging from immigration and citizenship to gender-based matters and the age of consent, it has divided the reforms into three blocks with” inconsistencies in ages” going before Cabinet first.

“They deal with different items and they’re rather voluminous,” Pinder said ahead of the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Attorney General Ryan Pinder

“So, we have now split that up to deal with immigration, citizenship and asylum — is one block.

“Sexual assault matters is another block and then equalizing the juvenile ages and looking at all of that as a third block for human rights matter with respect to juveniles.

“If you were to actually look at all the different pieces of legislation in the country that addresses juveniles, you’ll see numerous inconsistencies in ages of what you can do as a juvenile and not do as a juvenile.

“So, for instance, you can get married at a certain age, but you can’t go and get medical treatment by yourself, even if you’re married.

“These things are all inconsistencies throughout, so what we’re looking to do on the juvenile side is we’re looking to provide recommendations to Cabinet on all these discrepancies throughout all of the different pieces of legislation and to get a consensus on equalizing the age so there is less confusion and there is more routine and more transparency in how we deal with juvenile matters.”

Pinder said he hopes the consensual age reforms will be the first block brought to Cabinet as early as next week and then the sexual offenses matter second.

He said these are important issues for The Bahamas and its citizenry.

Asked about the ages being envisioned for certain activities such as seeking medical services independently, the attorney general said that will be a Cabinet decision.

He said the two primary ages that are looked at, which have been benchmarked internationally, will be 16 and 18.

Asked specifically about legislation to strengthen the law related to gender-based violence, Pinder said that is advancing.

On Monday, Senate President Lashell Adderley declared that the Bahamian justice system is in need of “critical legislative and social reform” following what she labeled as a “substantial increase” in incidents of domestic violence, sexual assaults and abuse against women and children.

She said the law must better protect victims.

In response, Pinder said: “There are two things that we are doing that I think are very material to juvenile offenses. One, to bring more understanding and equality among the different legislative pieces. That’s very important, but the second piece is we are advancing the framework for improving that juvenile court and as important as it is to have the legal framework, it is equally, if not more important to be able to enforce that framework and do it in a timely fashion…”

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.