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More offenses to be tried by judge alone; revisions to be made to Libel and Defamation act; Money Lenders act

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Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2022. 10:12 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: There will be changes to key pieces of legislation as approved by Cabinet this week.

At the next sitting of the House of Representatives, Cabinet has approved a bill to amend the Indictable Procedures Act, Chapter 96 of the Laws of Belize, to add offenses which are to be tried by a judge alone and for pleas to be taken virtually.

The new offences to be added include abduction of a child, sexual offences, trafficking in persons and offences under the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (Prohibition) Act.

Judges are already empowered to try alone, without a jury, cases of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and others.

The change is an effort to address various issues arising from jury trials and to seek to clear the backlog of pending criminal matters.

The Libel and Defamation Act will be repealed and replaced and the National Assembly asked to approve legislation which will strike a balance between the prosecution of the reputation of an individual and the freedom of speech and expression and to modernize the law of the tort of libel and slander.

Cabinet gave its approval for legislative changes to the Money Lenders Act and Money Lenders Regulations for improved transparency and accountability as well as to strengthen entry barriers for new and existing money lenders. Previously one institution was made to give back land it illegally possessed from a borrower as collateral for a defaulted loan and other breaches of the Act were publicly shown.

 

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