B. Government measures for dealing with the litter problem
1. Anti-litter Decree, 1991
In response to the increasing problem of litter the national government passed the Anti-Litter Decree in March 1992 (see chapter III, section A). Under the Decree, any public authority may, from time to time, appoint any suitable person to be a litter prevention officer (section 3). Litter prevention officers include any police officer; any officer appointed under the Public Health Act or any Forestry Officer. The Decree gives considerable powers to litter prevention officers.
Prior to the Decree, a litter offender was dealt with leniently by imposing an insignificant fine, usually of F$ 2. Under the Decree a person may be fined up to F$500, or be sentenced to imprisonment for up to three months for willful obstruction of an officer while performing his duties. For the more serious offence of depositing dangerous litter in a public place, a person can be imprisoned for up to six months or fined up to F$ 1,000. It is possible for a person to be both fined and imprisoned for such an offence. Where a corporate body is involved the fine may be as, much as F$ 2,000 (section 8). The Anti-Litter Decree imposes various forms of liability where a corporate body is found to have committed an offence against section 8. In that situation any director, manager, secretary, or similar officer of the corporate body involved may also be held liable.
The legislation also places a legal duty on public authorities to provide a sufficient number of receptacles for the deposit of litter as may reasonably be deemed necessary, in order to ensure that any place under their control is kept free of litter (section 7). In response to that requirement SCC has been placing rubbish skips in strategic locations. If the local authority fails to perform its statutory obligations, the enforcement of the Decree is taken over either generally or in a specific instance by the Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and the Environment.
The Anti-Litter Decree provides litter prevention officers with some discretionary power. They can order an offender to clear up and remove the litter from any location within "such a period and to such a place" as may be specified (section 12). One of the innovative features of the Anti-Litter Decree is the provision made for litter offence notices. A person to whom one of those offence notices is issued has the option of paying the prescribed penalty of F$ 40 within 21 days or of being prosecuted for the offence.
Under the Decree the burden of the proof is placed on the defendant, who must establish lawful authority, reasonable excuse, or absence of fault. For example, litter which has been deposited is presumed to have been abandoned unless the contrary is proved.