Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill, Geneva Conventions Bill: Departmental briefings

NCOP Security and Justice

05 June 2012
Chairperson: Mr T Mofokeng (ANC, Free State)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development noted that when the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act (the Act) was drafted, it reflected the legislature’s interpretation of the principle of legality, which was soundly based in law, that a court should have discretion to impose appropriate penalties. However, the Western Cape High Court, in the matter of S v Prins, had disputed that interpretation, relying on an opposing academic opinion, and had refused to convict an offender on the basis that the section under which he had been prosecuted did not set out a specific penalty, although other offences in the Act did set out specific penalties. This had serious ramifications for already-heard, part-head and pending cases. The National Prosecuting Authority had lodged an appeal, and arguments were scheduled for hearing on 12 June.  In the meantime the Portfolio Committee on Justice had also proposed a Bill to amend the Act, to ensure that any loopholes would be closed. The Bill proposed that the sections of the Act that did not specify offences should be aligned with all other sections that did. One subclause of the existing section 56 of the Act would be moved to become a new section 56A(2), as it made more chronological sense. A new section 56A(1) stated that if any court had convicted a person of an offence in terms of this Act, and no penalties were stated specifically under the Sexual Offences or any other Act, then the judicial officers would have a discretion to impose an appropriate penalty. This catered for the situation where one court might make a finding, yet another court would sentence, and also reiterated the interpretation of Parliament of the legality principle. Since this Bill would not be retrospective, it was also necessary to pursue the appeal. The Department described the specific requests for rulings that were being made to the Supreme Court of Appeal particularly in relation to past convictions. The Department was also doing research on penalties and whether the legislature should prescribe them in legislation, and the Minister would be reporting to Parliament within the next twelve months.

Members recognised the urgency of the matter, because of the serious impact of the decisions on pending cases, and the vulnerability of victims. However, some expressed their displeasure that this Committee was being asked to “rush” the matter. They asked for assurances that the loopholes would be closed, sought further information on how the courts were handling pending cases, heard why this affected Western Cape decisions and what the National Prosecuting Authority had done, and were given further information on why the Department and National Assembly considered this option the most appropriate. They questioned the financial implications to provinces. An ANC Member lambasted the Department for poor legislative drafting, but it was pointed out that this Bill was a Portfolio Committee Bill, and it was this matter that had to be considered. Members eventually decided to adopt the Bill, with the amendment that the Minister should report back to both Houses within six months, rather than one year.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans tabled and explained the Implementation of the Geneva Conventions Bill. This sought to incorporate into national law the four Geneva Conventions that were acceded to by South Africa in 1952, as well as the Protocols acceded to in 1998. All of these spoke to people not taking part in war, namely civilians, aid workers and health workers, or those soldiers who were wounded, captured or who had surrendered. South Africa had promised, in 1995 that it would pass the legislation by 1999, but despite this it had not managed to do so to date. The National Assembly had made two amendments to the original Bill, one in relation to interpretation, to ensure that international law, customary international law an comparable foreign law should also be considered by courts who considered matters under the Bill, and the other amendment to state that South Africa would not be precluded from dealing with offenders committing offences under customary international law, even prior to 1952. Members noted that this was a voluminous document, and asked about the urgency of passing the Bill. Whilst some suggested that it be delayed, the majority were of the view that there was nothing objectionable in it, that it was largely technical, and the Committee thus adopted it.

Meeting report

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and related matters) Act Amendment Bill (B19-2012)
Mr Lawrence Bassett, Chief Director: Legislative Drafting, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, noted that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act had been approved unanimously by both Houses of Parliament, when it was passed in 2006. It had, at the time, been drafted to reflect the principle that the courts had a discretion to impose penalties in line with their criminal jurisdiction, a principle supported by both Parliament and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ or the Department) at the time. The Department still felt this was the correct position, as it had been soundly based in law, with sufficient authority to substantiate that point of view.

However, in the recent matter of S v Prins, the court reached another conclusion, and the Department and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were appealing that decision. Leave to appeal had been granted and the understanding was that the Supreme Court of Appeal had expedited the case, with argument being set for hearing on 12 or 13 June 2012. In the meantime, however, Parliamentarians and the Justice sector felt that there was an urgent need to amend the legislation, to ensure that any loopholes, as seen by that court, in the current legislation would be closed, and it was quite  apparent what was needed.

Mr Bassett referred to a previous Portfolio Committee on Justice report, by way of background, and noted that this contained a good summary of the main points (see attached report). He noted the urgency of the matter. The Western Cape court was now bound by the Prins judgment, which had been to the effect that certain crimes set out in the Bill could not be prosecuted, and this was causing substantial problems and uncertainty.

Mr Henk du Preez, State Law Advisor, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, emphasised that the crux of the issue was that when Parliament passed the Act in 2007, no penalty clauses had been included, in respect of certain offences. This was because Parliament had interpreted the principle of legality to mean that “if was clear that the legislature’s intention was to create a crime, and penalties were not prescribed, then it was left to the discretion of the court, within its normal jurisdiction, to impose a penalty”. However, the Prins judgment reached the opposite conclusion, and decided that Parliament’s failure to prescribe specific penalties in respect of every offence set out in the Sexual Offences Act, meant that in fact a person could not be prosecuted in respect of an offence for which no penalty was listed.

Mr du Preez noted that the Amendment Bill consisted of six clauses. Some clauses dealt with technical aspects and spoke for themselves. He explained that the remaining clauses sought to give clarity to the offences in the Sexual Offences Act. When the Act had been framed in 2007 a specific formula had been used: firstly, to describe the prohibited conduct; secondly, to state that a person committing that conduct would be guilty of an offence; and thirdly, to name that offence. The Bill proposed amendments to section 11, section 17 and section 23 of the Sexual Offences Act, and sought to align those provisions with all other sections in the Act that created offences and sentences in specific terms. These clauses were thus directly related to the Prins judgment.

Mr du Preez then pointed out that section 56 of the Act was headed as dealing with “Defences and Sentencing”. However, only one sub-clause in section 56 in fact dealt with sentencing, and this contained a provision relating to certain aggravating factors. Clause 4 essentially contained a consequential amendment. Firstly, the heading was to be amended, to refer only to “Defences”. Then the sub-clause that had dealt with aggravating factors for sentencing would be removed from section 56, and incorporated instead as subsection (2) of the new section 56A.

Clause 5 of the Bill, a very short clause, dealt with sentencing. It proposed the insertion of a new section 56A into the Act. Section 56A(1) stated that if a court had convicted a person of an offence in terms of this Act, and the penalties were not prescribed for that offence, either in terms of the Sexual Offences Act or any other Act, the court must impose a sentence that it considered appropriate, and was within its general jurisdiction, in line with section 276 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA). As already mentioned, a new section 56A(2) would then include the wording to be taken out of section 56, in relation to aggravating factors.

Mr du Preez noted that this was a specific confirmation of the interpretation that Parliament had given to the principle of legality, in 2007.

Mr du Preez then explained why it was necessary both to bring the amendment and to pursue the appeal. The Amendment Bill would not be retrospective in nature. However, the Supreme Court of Appeal’s pronouncement would in fact relate to all offences and convictions under the sections which Parliament now sought to amend, since the Act had come into operation in 2007. The Supreme Court of Appeal had been asked to give clarity on how the principle of legality should be interpreted, and specifically to whether sentencing could be left to the discretion of the Court if the legislature did not prescribe penalties. The new section 56A(1) would, if passed, specify that if a person was charged with an offence for which the legislature had not prescribed a penalty, the court should impose an appropriate sentence.

Mr du Preez then noted that clause 6 of the Bill set out the short title. 

Mr du Preez then said that the Bill would become effective immediately it was enacted, as there were no prior implementation steps to be taken.

Mr Bassett explained that there had been discussion as to whether the Bill should attempt to impose specific offences for every specific offence, or whether the general route should be taken. It was decided to follow the general route, which would confirm Parliament’s original intention. However, it had been suggested that it would, in the long run, be desirable to have proper research done, and come up with proper recommendations on specific penalties, for consideration by Parliament. The Department had begun working on this, but it was likely to take some time.

Mr Bassett reiterated that the Bill now before Members allowed the courts to provide penalties in line with their criminal jurisdiction. He explained that in a Magistrate’s Court, the penal jurisdiction was up to three years imprisonment or a maximum fine of R60 000, whilst a Regional Court’s penal jurisdiction was up to 15 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of R300 000, and a High Court’s penal jurisdiction was unlimited.

Mr du Preez concluded that this was not the first time that Parliament had enacted a provision like this; for instance, Item 12 in Schedule 1 of the South African Transport Services Act contained similar wording, and section 4(1), relating to the Rome Statute, of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002 was another example.

Mr D Joseph (ANC, Western Cape) commented that Parliament was essentially being rushed to close the loopholes,  after the Prins case, and he wanted to check that all the research had been properly done, to ensure that the provisions were tightened, and what clauses were necessary to close the gaps.

Mr Du Preez responded that it must be borne in mind that this was a general provision that related to the whole Act. He could not see that there would be any gaps remaining if the provisions were passed. The clauses in the Bill clearly stated that if the court convicted a person, it would then be up to the Court to determine what penalty would be appropriate, if no penalty had been expressly provided for in either the Sexual Offences Act or any other legislation. There was a whole body of law dealing with sentencing, and the courts referred to that on a daily basis in regard to existing common law offences.

Mr B Nesi (ANC, Eastern Cape) agreed that the Bill was important, pointing out that many sexual offences cases had to be dealt with. There was a need to clarify matters, and fix any issues that posed potential problems. He asked that the Department do proper research to close the many gaps within the laws in this country.

Mr J Gunda (ID) asked if the Prins case was the first time in which government had been alerted to the possible gap, or whether there had been any previous cases that indicated a problem.

Mr du Preez responded that the Department had started off by looking at the South African Law Reform Commission Report and recommendations around sentencing. There were a number of offences currently covered under the Minimum Sentencing legislation, in Act 105 of 1997, which included offences of rape, compelled rape and certain offences relating to children, including sexual exploitation of children, instances where a child was used for child pornography, sexual exploitation of persons who were mentally disabled, or mentally disabled persons being used for pornographic purposes. The Act not only created sexual offences, but also created offences of an administrative nature, in relation to the chapters dealing with the National Register of Sex Offenders and the compulsory HIV testing of alleged sex offenders. Penalty provisions were included for these offences. The offences for which no penalty provisions had been included were in section 5 (sexual assault), section 6 (compelled sexual assault), section 7(compelled sexual assault), section 8 (compelling or causing persons 18 years or older to witness sexual offences, sexual acts or self masturbation), section 9 (“flashing”), section 10 (exposure or display or causing the exposure or display of child pornography to persons 18 years or older), section 11 (engaging the sexual services of a person 18 years or older), and sections 12, 13 and 14, which related to incest, bestiality, and sexual act with a corpse.  The last offences for which no provisions were included were sexual offences against children and persons who were mentally disabled.

He noted that the Prins judgment had summarised that roughly 29 offences had not covered. The Department had presented the Portfolio Committee with two options. The first was to prescribe penalties in respect of every offence in the Act. The second option, the one preferred by the Portfolio Committee, was a general provision, as now presented at this meeting. Extensive research and consultation was needed before prescribing penalties, and for this reason the Department and Portfolio Committee had felt that the second option was preferable, as well as the fact that the second option also was, to a large extent, a confirmation of Parliament’s interpretation of the principle of legality. Another factor was that the majority of these offences were common law offences, and the body of case law provided courts with the necessary guidelines for imposing sentences.

Mr Joseph noted that the Bill, once passed, would not apply retrospectively and asked what would happen to the cases that had been put on hold after Prins judgement. He also enquired what information was to be given to victims, how the police and courts would handle the matters, and what the current position was in regard to perpetrators, and whether they were lawfully detained.

Mr D Bloem (COPE, Free State) also asked what had happened to offenders under these sections since the Prins matter, and how many alleged offenders were involved. He pointed out that the Committee could approve the Bill only after it had received full information on all the issues.

Mr Gunda asked why this matter was coming under review in this matter, if the principle had been accepted before.

Mr du Preez reminded Members that the Prins judgment was only binding and applicable in the Western Cape. The Free State, in the S v Booi case, and KwaZulu Natal, in S v Mchunu, came to a different conclusion. It was only the Western Cape that was, strictly speaking, bound by the Prins matter at this stage. The Director of Public Prosecutions in Western Cape had, shortly after that case, issued directives to prosecutors, and by that stage the decision had already been taken to appeal. In respect of all pending matters in terms of these sections, prosecutors were requested to postpone the cases, for at least two months, pending the outcome of the appeal. In respect of cases that were being investigated, prosecutors had been asked to check whether alternative charges could be preferred, so that the cases could proceed. It was therefore clear that matters were in hand, and he emphasised again that it was particularly important to proceed with the appeal, because it would not only give the correct interpretation, but would also impact directly on the pending cases. One of the questions that the Supreme Court of Appeal was asked to consider was what should happen to pending cases, and cases relating to acts committed between 2007 and the date of the Prins judgement.

The Chairperson noted that this would have an impact on both offenders and victims.

Mr du Preez replied that the judgment would not affect anything in the Act that related to services to victims, as these would still be provided, although one possible consequence for victims would be the delay in having cases finalised, pending the outcome from the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Mr Joseph asked who was to receive reports, within twelve months.

Mr du Preez responded that it was the Minister who needed to report to Parliament within 12 months. That request had been made in all fairness, and it was then up to Parliament, when the report was made after 12 months, to decide how to proceed in future, and whether this provision, as set out in the Bill should be retained, or whether Parliament wanted to follow the route of prescribing specific penalties for all offences.

Mr Joseph said he begged to differ about the notion of a court “decision”. He said that the court did not simply make a “decision” but was in fact influenced by the gravity of the offence committed, and the facts would be one of the factors as to where the case was prosecuted, so that appropriate sentences could be given.

Mr Nesi asked how decisions were made that a certain sexual offence needed to be dealt with in a certain court.

Mr du Preez replied that the decision as to the appropriate court in which a case must be prosecuted was usually left to the discretion of the National Prosecuting Authority, and he confirmed that this decision was based not only on the severity of the offence, but also on other factors, such as the impact on the victim. There might also be cases where a matter could, for instance, be prosecuted in the Regional Court, but during the sentencing stages, it came to light that the defendant had several previous convictions. That was why the Criminal Procedure Act allowed for a case to be transferred to a higher court, so that a higher sentence could be imposed, where it was appropriate. He pointed out that this point was actually now also included in the proposed new section 56A(1), which referred to “this court or another court” who had convicted a person of an offence and who was now to sentence. That was wide enough to cover all courts who had dealt with the matter.

Mr Nesi was worried that the gap in income distribution in the country could result in some sexual offenders being sentenced to fines, paying them, and not being imprisoned, whilst others, because they were unable to pay, might languish for years in prisons. He was worried whether the law was consistently applied. He conceded that there should be a focus on addressing sexual offences, which affected women and children, including both girls and boys. He was not sure about the legislatures’ power to prescribe penalties, and he asked that the Department should advise the Committee on that point.

Mr du Preez replied that this was a difficult question to answer. It was an issue that Parliament could consider. However, this was merely one example of a number of instances in which concerns may be raised about the appropriateness of sentences imposed. However, this was the system in place. He was aware that this may sound like an attempt to avoid the question, but said that this was not so. In many instances, sentences imposed by a lower court were reviewed by higher courts, and there had been many instances in which matters were referred back for reconsideration of the sentences. In addition, there was a system for appeals. Every presiding officer imposing a sentence was required to take into account a number of factors, including the impact of crime on society, the victim and the impact of the sentence on the convicted person. He could not say much more as this was essentially a court function.

Mr Gunda asked if there was going to be a process of public participation and, if so, who was to engage in it.

Mr du Preez replied that National Assembly had suspended many of its rules so that this Bill could be promoted as a matter of urgency. However, the Portfolio Committee had made a call for submissions, and had received comments from 13 individuals and institutions, who appreciated the urgency of the matter, expressed gratitude for the urgent action being taken, and expressed support for the Bill.

Mr Gunda asked about the implications for provinces, asking if the statement that there would be no implications for the provinces was a final statement, and whether this included no financial implications, even in the event that corrections might have to be made.

Mr du Preez replied that the Department was dealing with this as a section 75 Bill. The two main role players in these matters were the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Service both of which were national institutions, with national budgets, although they did have provincial offices. The administration of the courts was also a national function. For this reason, the Department did not believe that there would be financial implications for the provinces. He also stressed that this was not a Bill emanating from the Department, but from the Portfolio Committee.

Mr Bloem said the ad hoc manner in which Bills were being dealt with resulted in the Committees having to rush to approve matters, and he worried what would happen if the Minister did not find it desirable. He said that no answer had been given to his question on what would happen to offenders who had already been convicted.

Mr Nesi agreed that the urgency of the matter meant the Members was not able to apply their minds properly to the Bill, and he feared that this would be rejected by the courts, and that this would reflect badly on the Committee. He understood, however, that this was important and urgent legislation affecting vulnerable groups, and moved that the Bill be supported to allow the issues to be addressed.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC, KwaZulu Natal) was grateful to the Portfolio Committee for its speedy response to the issues, and thought the clauses provided a process for the courts. This Committee must also respond to the urgency. He hoped that the Supreme Court of Appeal would confirm the convictions of those already convicted, on the merits of the cases, and also appreciated the way in which the National Prosecuting Authority had given guidance. He supported the twelve month period for the giving of a report to Parliament, and hoped that this would assist on the question of offences and penalties, saying that this was sufficient time to research the matter fully. However, he also would like to see updates being given periodically, rather than merely one report after twelve months.

Mr Bloem agreed that this was an urgent and serious matter, and must be treated accordingly. He would like to see the Department reporting back within six months.

Mr A Matila (ANC, Gauteng) criticised the Department for bringing “a great deal of badly crafted legislation”. He commented on the disjuncture, saying that the lower courts did not seem to know what the upper courts were doing, and said there was bad management. That was why there was a need to streamline the whole process. He did not agree that the Committee should be rushed in this process, and commented on the previous remarks of the Speaker of the NA that legislation that was brought to the Committee was poor.

The Chairperson interrupted by pointing out that Parliament, and not the Department, were the lawmakers.

Mr Matila said this was the reason for his concern. This was only the preliminary briefing, yet the Department was pushing the Committee to agree with the Bill, before it had had a chance to think about the situation. The Committee needed ample time to deal with the issue. He added that although the Department, in contrast to the Committee Members, were lawyers, previous drafts brought to the Committee had shown grammatical and language problems.

The Chairperson interrupted to note that no errors of this nature were apparent on this Bill, and there was a need to deal with the matter before the Committee. He asked Mr Matila to remember the urgency of the matter.

Mr Matila said that the judicial system had been sitting with the problem for years, so it could not be seen as becoming urgent overnight.

The Chairperson again interjected, noting that there was a problem when Members arrived late and did not hear the full briefings. He asked that the Committee recess briefly, for a caucus, and did not allow Mr Matila to comment again at this point.

After a brief recess, Mr Bloem stated that Members agreed that the Bill should be dealt with urgently, and should be supported, save that Members wanted a report-back by the Minister, to both Houses, within six months, rather than the twelve-month period set out in the Bill.

Mr P Zulu (IFP) supported that proposal.

Mr Matila, on behalf of the ANC, indicated agreement, and stressed that a thorough report was needed within six months, because this was “one of the worst departments” and was disjointed.

The Chairperson summarised that the Committee, having considered the subject of the Bill, agreed to it and supported the Bill.

Mr Matila took over as Acting Chairperson

Implementation of the Geneva Conventions Bill [B 10B-2011]: Department of Defence and Military Veterans briefing
Lt Colonel Kenneth Mashego, Representative, Department of Defence and Military Veterans, said that the Bill covered the Geneva Conventions, to which South Africa had agreed in 1952. The “Geneva Conventions” was a generic term for four conventions. The objectives of the conventions were to provide greater protection, within international law, for individuals against the hardships of war, and to outline how particular groups should be dealt with during war. The first dealt with the amelioration of the conditions of the wounded and the sick in armed forces in the field. The second referred to the amelioration of the conditions of wounded, sick, or those on ships wrecked in the sea. The third convention provided for the treatment of prisoners of war. The fourth provided for the protection of civilians during a time of war. In addition to these conventions, there were another two protocols, to which South Africa acceded on 21 November 1995. All these conventions specifically targeted people who were not taking part in the war itself, and this would speak to civilians, aid workers and health workers. They also spoke to soldiers who were no longer effectively in war, either because they were wounded or had surrendered.

South Africa had acceded to the conventions in 1952 and to the protocols in 1995. All acceding state parties were obliged to enact national laws to make those conventions applicable within their own country, and these were termed as “articles common for conventions”. He set out the relevant articles in respect of each convention (see attached presentation). The legislation that was necessary would also provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing or ordering any of the grave breaches of the conventions defined in the articles. In addition to this, however, Mr Mashego pointed out that section 231(4) of the Constitution provided that any international agreement became law in the Republic when it was enacted into law by the national legislation, so this also emphasised the necessity of passing the Implementation of the Geneva Conventions Bill (the Bill). He stressed that the Bill sought to incorporate the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols into the national law, to provide for prevention and punishment of any breaches, to facilitate implementation and enforcement.

Mr Mashego outlined what was included in the Bill (see attached presentation on the Bill).

Mr Siviwe Njikela, Director: Legal, Department of Defence and Military Veterans, said that Members may have noticed an apparent discrepancy in the numbering of the clauses, and explained that this was due to the fact that the National Assembly, when considering the Bill, had inserted a new clause. He drew attention to page 5 of the B-version of the Bill, clause 3, headed ‘Applicable Law’, and said that this was the new clause, which related to the interpretation of the Bill. This clause now stated that in addition to having regard to the Constitution and the South African law, any court that heard a matter arising out of the application of the Bill would also need to take into consideration international law, customary international law, and comparable foreign law. This was merely an interpretative directive to the courts.

Secondly, Mr Njikela stated that the National Assembly had inserted another amendment, in clause 7(4). This read that “nothing in this Act must be construed as precluding the prosecution of any person committing a breach under customary international law, before this Act took effect.” He indicated that the Geneva Convention was one of the few international instruments that was considered to be universally ratified. However, even before this came into effect, there might have been offences committed under customary international law. This clause was intended to ensure that South African authorities would not be precluded from dealing with offenders, for past deeds, in terms of the customary international law.

Mr Bloem asked if there was any urgency to this Bill, which was a lengthy document.

Mr Njikela responded that South Africa had made a commitment, in 1995, to pass the Bill in 1999.  Up to this point due to other competing priorities of government, it was not possible to bring this Bill to Parliament, but that was now being done. There was certainly no pressure on the Committee or the Department that the Bill must be passed at this meeting, so the Committee could take its time to consider the content. There were, as stated, a number of schedules, and this made it quite voluminous. He emphasised that the purpose of the Bill was to give effect to South Africa’s obligations under international law.

The Committee was free to take its time and consider the contents of the Bill. As it had been stated there were a number of schedules attached the Bill making it a thick Bill which the members of the Committee may have wanted to consider before they made a decision. The Bill itself was to give effect to South Africa’s obligation under international law.  He said it could be left with the Committee to deal with it in the normal course of its procedures.

The Acting Chairperson suggested that, unless Members wanted to ask questions of clarity, they should agree to deal with the matter later, and call the Department back if any issues or concerns raised themselves after Members had had a chance to consider the Bill.

Mr Nzimande said that this Committee had nine Bills to deal with, and if the Committee were to include this, it would force the Committee to try to find extra time, whilst other Bills had deadlines.

Mr Zulu pointed out that South Africa had apparently made a commitment to pass legislation as far back as 1999, and he questioned why there was a need to delay further.

Mr Nesi saw nothing in the Bill that caused concern. He noted that clearly the Committee could not remember everything that had been set out in the presentation but doubted that the Committee would find anything objectionable. He indicated that, for his part, he was prepared to support the Bill.

Another Member supported that the Committee should move forward with the Bill.

Mr Gunda also agreed that the Bill could be passed.

The Acting Chairperson said that since the majority of Members were in favour of passing the Bill, it should be adopted, and would be tabled in the House before the 14 June 2012.

The Committee Report on the Bill was adopted, to the effect that the Committee agreed with the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned

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