Bahrain law against transfer of banned plants
Manama, April 10, 2012
Bahrain has amended and approved a pan-GCC legislation on the transfer of seeds and shrubs, which could mean people caught importing, exporting or growing banned plants will face prison.
The Shura Council wanted to bring the new bill, which is being implemented across the GCC, in line with Bahrain's Penal Code.
The amendments approved yesterday state the punishment would be a minimum three months in jail, but if there is a more severe punishment in the Penal Code then the judge has to take it - for example if drugs are involved.
People importing, exporting or growing genetically modified or contaminated crops would also face a minimum of three months in jail, or a more severe punishment taking into consideration articles in the Penal Code related to intentional harming the health of others.
Such plants would also be destroyed at the violators' expense, as stipulated in the law by Shura Council members.
The council had last week suspended discussions on the draft legislation due to conflict with the government.
A Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry representative told members last week that if the body wanted to make any amendments, they should be taken to the GCC Summit for discussion.
However, under new punishments introduced and approved by the Shura Council yesterday, horticulturists who import seeds, plants and seedlings not authorised by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry would be fined up to BD500 ($1,326).
Horticulturists who start business without getting authorisation from the ministry concerned or disregard growth quality guidelines during their work would also be fined the same amount. Those who set up greenhouses or showrooms without getting proper commercial approval will also be fined up to BD500.
However, if the same offence is repeated the fine is doubled.
Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi said the GCC was waiting for Bahrain to approve the bill, which would allow the government to better organise the sector.
"This bill is a step forward for the GCC as it works to organise and control the sector and ensure that violations are combated and dealt with through specifically dedicated legislation that doesn't exist at the moment," he said.
The council last week approved amendments to make it only applicable to horticulturists and people working in the agriculture sector, without including what people grew at home.
The bill will be now referred back to parliament for study and revision, after MPs were earlier prevented from amending the law by the government. – TradeArabia News Service