Kingston, 16 January 2024 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has named January 22, 2024 as the date when the amendments to the Domestic Violence Act shall come into operation.
The Minister made the announcement in a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (today).
Minister Grange said: “I report today that His Excellency, the Governor General has given assent to The Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act, 2023; and that it is my intention to bring the law, as amended, into effect on Monday, January 22, 2024.”
The Minister said the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act, 2023 demonstrated the commitment of the government and parliamentarians to prevent and punish acts of domestic violence.
“Madam Speaker, let the word go from this place that we are serious about dealing with domestic abuse. A new day has come for protecting victims and increasing the punishment for perpetrators of domestic abuse,” said Minister Grange.
As of January 22, the new law will allow the Court to issue Protection Orders and impose a penalty of up to one million dollars for breach of a Protection Order, up from a maximum of ten thousand dollars; and a sentence of up to one year in prison.
The new law will also increase the categories of persons who can make an application for a Protection Order — including the spouse or parent of an individual in respect of whom the conduct has been made or is likely to be made.
The Children’s Advocate will also now be able to apply for a Protection Order where the alleged conduct is threatened against a child.
Additionally, the amended legislation will allow the Minister for Gender Affairs to flexibly amend monetary penalties.
Minister Grange said the government acting principally through the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the Ministry of National Security “we have significantly improved [its] support programme for people facing domestic violence.”
Among the achievements are the establishment of two government shelters for victims of domestic abuse, with a third on the way; the establishment of domestic violence intervention centres at police stations across the island; and the full operationalisation of the National Gender-based Violence Helpline.
“I urge the woman or man listening to me and feels trapped in a violent relationship: my sister, my brother there is hope. Your life can change. It doesn’t have to be this way… Just call the helpline or text us and we will help,” Minister Grange said.
The helpline numbers for women are: 876-553-0372 and 876-236-1713.
The helpline number for men is: 876-553-0387.