Legislation providing for stricter penalties for starting catastrophic fires and bringing together existing provisions currently scattered in several laws, is expected to be ready by the end of January, it was announced on Tuesday.
The announcement followed a broad meeting at the Legal Service to discuss the progress in reviewing related legislation, plugging gaps and removing overlaps to make it easier for the authorities to prosecute cases.
The decision to overhaul the laws and introduce stricter penalties was made in the summer after the worst fire in living memory destroyed 55 square kilometres of forest, cultivations, homes, and other properties, killing four men trying to flee.
Following the July blaze, the Legal Service said offences relating to arson, lighting fires, causing fires and other similar matters, could be found in several laws with some overlapping but with different penalties in some cases.
The new legislation will also establish a criminal offence relating to actions that could start fires, like burning stubble, or operating machinery like angle grinders. Both activities had caused fires last summer.
According to an announcement by the Legal Service, Tuesday’s meeting heard the preliminary recommendation of a ministerial committee. The bill amending the laws will be prepared by the law commissioner by the end of January 2022.