Ex-con­victs’ fin­ger­prints to be valid for a spe­cific pe­riod

Swazi Observer - - NATIONAL NEWS - By Mbono Md­luli

FOR­MER con­victs are ex­pected to breathe a sigh of re­lief as fin­ger­prints and records of pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions will be valid for a cer­tain pe­riod of time.

Cur­rently, for­mer-of­fend­ers’ records are used against them such that they are some­times not given op­por­tu­ni­ties of be­ing em­ployed, re­gard­less of when they com­mit­ted the crime.

In short, the records, as things stand, are valid for an un­lim­ited pe­riod of time.

This re­sulted in the over­whelm­ing out­cry of mem­bers of the pub­lic on the neg­a­tive im­pact of the use of fin­ger­prints or pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion records of ex-of­fend­ers. What made mat­ters worse for the pub­lic was that the fin­ger­prints were used without con­sid­er­ing the time when the crime was com­mit­ted.

Even if the ex-of­fend­ers had served their sen­tences, they were vic­timised, based on their fin­ger­prints.

The Au­gust House is now in the process of pass­ing the Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure and Ev­i­dence (Amend­ment) Bill No. 08 of 2015. The House port­fo­lio com­mit­tee of the min­istry of jus­tice and con­sti­tu­tional af­fairs has fin­ished de­lib­er­at­ing on the Bill. On Wed­nes­day, the com­mit­tee was tabling a re­port on how it de­lib­er­ated on the amend­ments.

Min­is­ter for Jus­tice and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs Edgar Hil­lary told the mem­bers of the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee that the aim of the bill was to con­trol the ac­ces­si­bil­ity and reg­u­late the use by pro­vid­ing a time frame within which the record of pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions could be used.

“The sta­tus quo re­sulted in the ex­of­fend­ers be­ing dis­ad­van­taged or pun­ished for their of­fences for the rest of their lives. This has been, more of­ten than not, the case in the el­i­gi­bil­ity for schol­ar­ships and se­cur­ing of jobs in cer­tain fields or dis­ci­plines,” Hil­lary said. He went on to say no mat­ter how petty the crime­was, the cir­cum­stances that pre­vailed at the time and the time that had lapsed, the record would some­times prove to be detri­men­tal to the liveli­hood of an ex-of­fender. The min­is­ter be­lieved that the amend­ment would ad­dress the dis­crep­ancy and the record of pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions would only be used in the reg­u­lated cir­cum­stances.

This is how the fin­ger­print records are to be reg­u­lated:

The records of a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion of a child of­fender will be valid for a pe­riod of three years, be­gin­ning from the last day of serv­ing the sen­tence.

After the ex­piry date of three years, the records of a pre­cious con­vic­tion of a child of­fender can only be dis­closed and used for pur­poses of crime de­tec­tion, in­ves­ti­ga­tion of an of­fence or for the use in pros­e­cu­tion.

The va­lid­ity of a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion, ex­cept for a child, shall be de­ter­mined by the length of the sen­tence.

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