Senator cautions against legislating behaviour

An Independent Senator is cautioning the Government against legislating behaviour as he contributed to the debate on an amendment to the Minor Offences Act.

Dr Chelston Brathwaite said the legislation might not reach the ears of those who were impacted and called for education of the society as a deterrent regarding the act.

The legislative change will see individuals fined $500 for flying a kite “with any object which creates noise”, commonly known as a bull, between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Brathwaite, speaking in the Senate yesterday, said flying kites at night as a boy was not part of the pastime.

“So now I find that kite flying is a night time activity as if people don’t have anything else to do at night, I don’t understand,” he said, generating chuckles from his fellow senator colleagues.

Brathwaite, however, said that “while supporting the legislation I have a fundamental concern with our attempts to legislate behaviour. Once we begin to go down that road on a frequent basis, we are going to have a slew of legislation [dealing] with these issues”.

He supported his concern by referencing reports where the courts were faced with a backlog of cases, “and if we add new legislation on these behavioural issues to the plate, it seems to me we are going to have a significant increase in the number of cases to be heard in the courts”.

In calling for an awareness outreach as to the consequences of running afoul of the legislation, Brathwaite said “if we do not do that the legislation may be just legislation on the books and may have little or no impact on the behaviour of those in contravention . . .”.

“There was also a point made by my fellow senator [Dr Kristina] Hinds about the challenges about finding the persons who are in fact in contravention of the legislation since many times the persons who are in charge of the kite and where the noise of the kite is heard and found is far removed from each other, and the police may have a problem detecting who are the owners of this kite . . . charging the person may become a challenge for the police,” Brathwaite said. (JS)

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