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CORONERS OFFICE BILL (2019)

Explanatory Memorandum

This Bill provides for the establishment of an office responsible for investigating all deaths that come about as a result of unnatural causes. It also sets out the appointment, functions, and powers of the Coroner-General, Deputy Coroner-General and coroners in relation to postmortems, inquests and their findings. The Bill repeals the Inquests Act [Chapter 7:07], and amends the Birth and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02] and the Burial and Cremation Act [Chapter 5:03].

In more detail the individual clauses contain the following provisions: PART I

Preliminary Clause 1 sets out the short title of the Bill.

Clause 2 provides the definition of terms used in the Bill. PART II

Establishmentand ManagementofOffice
Clause 3 provides for the establishment and constitution of the Coroner’s Office

of Zimbabwe.

Clause 4 lays out the functions of the Office, primarily investigation of deaths which appear to come about in a sudden, suspicious or violent manner and deaths occurring within 24 hours of a patient arriving at a health institution and death occurring during treatment or care.

Clause 5 provides for the appointment and qualifications of the Coroner-General, Deputy Coroner-General and other coroners.All staff of the Office shall be civil servants.

Clause 6 outlines sources of funds for the Office and establishes the Office as a reporting unit in terms of the Public finance Management Act.

PART III
Preservation of M edical Records,Reporting and Investigation of Unnatural

Deaths

Clause 7 enjoins custodians of health or medical records to preserve medical records. The clause criminalises willful and reckless destruction or failure to preserve documents.

Clause 8 lists people given the duty to report unnatural deaths and also gives time frames within which such deaths should be reported.

Clause 9 outlines circumstances when postmortems and inquests should be conducted or dispensed with.

Clause 10 provides for a review mechanism for any person aggrieved by a coroners’ decision not to hold an inquest.

Clause 11 contains substantive provisions on inquests and powers of coroners in relation thereto.

Clause 12 contains procedural provisions on inquests. i(i)

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Coroner’s offiCe Bill

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Clause 13 provides for the duties of a coroner at the conclusion of the investigation of an unnatural death.

Clause 14 provides for the publication of a coroner’s findings andobservations.

PART III

General
Clause 15 empowers coroners to report misconduct by any professional to the

National Prosecuting Authority and professional regulatory bodies.

Clause 16 empowers the coroner to dispense with inquests on death of members of the Defence Forces in certain circumstances.

Clause 17 and 18 empowers the Minister to give policy directions to the Office and make regulations for the office.

Clause 19 gives the Coroner-General a duty to ensure that the Office has a website and publishes an Office bulletin.

Clause 20 makes consequential amendments to other Acts. Clause 21 repeals the Inquest Act [Chapter 7:07].

(ii)

Section

Coroner’s offiCe Bill

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ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS PART I Preliminary

  1. Short title and commencement.
  2. Interpretation.PART II Establishment,Management and financial provisions of Office
  3. Establishment and constitution of Office.
  4. Functions of the Office.
  5. Appointment of Coroner-General, Deputy Coroner-General and coroners.
  6. Funds and accounting status of Office.PART III

Preservation of M edical Records,Reporting and Investigation of Unnatural

Deaths

  1. Preservation of medical records and duties of medical practitioners.
  2. Reporting of deaths and powers of coroners in relation thereto.
  3. Post-mortem examinations and powers of coroners in relation thereto.
  4. Review of decision not to hold inquest.
  5. Inquests and powers of coroners in relation thereto.
  6. Procedure at an inquest.
  7. Duties of coroner at conclusion of inquest.
  8. Publication of coroner’s findings and observations.PART IVGeneral
  9. Reporting offences, corrupt conduct or misconduct.
  10. Inquests on death of members of the Defence Forces dispensed with in certaincases.
  11. Minister may give policy directions.
  12. Regulations.
  13. Official electronic communication platform and bulletin of Office.
  14. Amendments of other Acts.
  15. RepealofInquestsAct[Chapter7:07]andsavings.FIRST SCHEDULE: Ancillary powers of the Office. SECOND SCHEDULE: Form of summons.

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Coroner’s offiCe Bill

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BILL

AN ACT to establish the Coroner’s Office to conduct independent and impartial investigations into unnatural deaths in order to determine the circumstances of such deaths; to provide for the appointment and functions of the Coroner-General, Deputy Coroner-General and their staff; to repeal the Inquests Act [Chapter 7:07]; to amend the Burial and Cremation Act [Chapter 5:03]; to amend the Births and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02] and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.

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