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Article Jamaica: Amendment Act Enhances Protections Against Domestic Violence

On December 21, 2023, Jamaica’s House of Representatives passed the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act, 2023. The 2023 amendment act amends the Domestic Violence Act passed in 1996 and amended in 1995 and 2004. The 2023 amendment act “aims to better protect victims on the island where people are reluctant to report [domestic violence] cases to authorities.”

Protection Orders

The 2023 amendment act enables a spouse or a parent, a social worker, or a children’s advocate to apply for a protection order prohibiting the respondent from entering or remaining in the household of a specified person, whether adult or child, or the area where the household is located; harassing that person; or damaging their property. The court could also direct the respondent to

(i)  return to the prescribed person, property that is jointly or separately owned by the prescribed person that is in the respondent’s possession or under the respondent’s control; or

(ii)  relinquish to the police any firearm (or prohibited weapon) which the respondent may have in the respondent’s possession or control, and which may or may not have been used. … (2023 amendment act § 4(1)(b), as amended.)


Persons Authorized to File an Application for a Protection Order

An application for a protection order may be filed by the respondent’s spouse or parent, a member of the respondent’s household, or a person who is in a visiting relationship with the respondent, regarding “the alleged conduct engaged in, or likely to be engaged in, by the respondent toward that person.” An application may also be filed by a child; a member of the respondent’s family who regularly resides with the respondent; a person who relies on the respondent for welfare or maintenance for reason of physical or mental disability, age, or infirmity; or a parent or guardian, as appropriate. (§ 3(2), as amended.)

The Office of the Children’s Advocate, a parliamentary commission mandated to enforce and protect the rights and best interests of children, is similarly authorized to file an application when the alleged conduct is directed at a child. The office was established in 2006 under the Child Care and Protection Act (2004).

Penalties

The 2023 amendment act increases the penalties that may be levied on a person who violates a protection order from 10,000 Jamaican dollars (about US$63) to 1 million Jamaican dollars (about US$6,314) and a potential sentence of up to one year in prison. (2023 amendment act § 5(1), as amended.)

Ruth Levush, Law Library of Congress
February 23, 2024

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Chicago citation style:

Levush, Ruth. Jamaica: Amendment Act Enhances Protections Against Domestic Violence. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-22/jamaica-amendment-act-enhances-protections-against-domestic-violence/.

APA citation style:

Levush, R. (2024) Jamaica: Amendment Act Enhances Protections Against Domestic Violence. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-22/jamaica-amendment-act-enhances-protections-against-domestic-violence/.

MLA citation style:

Levush, Ruth. Jamaica: Amendment Act Enhances Protections Against Domestic Violence. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-22/jamaica-amendment-act-enhances-protections-against-domestic-violence/>.