Fri | Sep 22, 2017

A bigger role for MOCA

Published:Saturday | May 30, 2015 | 5:00 AMAndrew King, Contributor
Andrew King

In his Sectoral presentation to Parliament on May 29, National Security Minister Peter Bunting said, inter alia, "MOCA (Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency) is the vanguard agency for detection and investigation of criminal kingpins, corrupt public officials, and professionals who facilitate money laundering." Minister Bunting noted, "Cabinet has issued drafting instructions for legislation to establish MOCA as a statutory body independent of the JCF."

I welcome the announcement that MOCA will operate within a legal framework empowered by legislation. I, therefore, urge the minister to ensure controls and rigorous safeguards are included in the proposed legislation.

I noted that even with the increased threat of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), then news of a potential home-grown and global terrorist, the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency merely featured a paragraph in the minister's Sectoral presentation. There was no mention of whether immigration officers are receiving specialised training in behaviour detection and suspicion travel routes to detect and intercept potential terrorists prior to departure and upon arrival in Jamaica.

 

Intelligence collection

 

If MOCA is to achieve its objectives of detecting, intercepting and successfully securing convictions of criminal kingpins, the proposed legislation must contain both intelligence collection and executive functions to confront and address highly sophisticated security issues and latent threats.

The legislation must empower the agency to investigate and, where necessary, take direct action in relation to the defined security threats of terrorism, transnational drug crimes, money laundering, human trafficking, serious fraud and politically motivated violence, including vote buying and the distribution of brown envelopes on election day.

In South Africa, the State Security Agency (SSA) is the new organisation (independent of the South African Police Service and Defence Force) that has been created as part of that country's review process in their security apparatus. The mandate of the SSA is to provide the government with intelligence on domestic and foreign threats or potential threats to national stability, the constitutional order, and the safety and well-being of South Africans.

The final organisational structure will see the following structures collapsed into the SSA as branches, with each branch led by a head, accountable to the director general:

- The National Intelligence Agency

- The South African Secret Service

- The South African National Academy of Intelligence

- The National Communications Centre

- The Office for Interception Centres

- Electronic Communications Security (Pty) Ltd

The Government and national security officials must examine merging the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) Anti-Gang Intelligence Unit, the National Intelligence Bureau, and the Military Intelligence Unit of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to form a new and elite intelligence and law-enforcement agency.

To whom should MOCA report?

The proposed MOCA legislation must contain provision for the collection and analysis of intelligence and present its assessments and policy recommendations to the National Security Council, the designated authority to whom the agency should report, not to the security minister or the police commissioner. Legislation must clearly state that the National Security Council is designated as a department of the Cabinet Office, with the Cabinet secretary heading the Security Council Secretariat.

The operational charter of the new MOCA should include extraterritorial, transnational crimes. The agency will have the powers of investigation and arrest identical to police powers and are likewise regulated and governed by the laws of the land, in particular, the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Official Secrets Act. MOCA will also have administrative functions pertaining to the protective security and responsibility for setting standards and act as the security consultant for public-sector agencies.

 

Adequate resources

 

The new agency must be granted sufficient resources and expertise to address certain new transnational threats: infrastructure protection, including information systems; specifically the Internet. The issue of protection against hackers and cyber-attacks has become all the more pertinent and urgent. Individuals, corporations, and nations that are unable to defend themselves will suffer economic and other consequences. The proposed legislation must empower MOCA as the agency to investigate cyber threats and IT security breaches.

The preservation of national security is a multifaceted endeavour that requires cooperation across a diverse range of initiatives and programmes.

To supervise and coordinate this expanded planning and programming function between the new MOCA, the JCF and JDF, I propose the creation of a new position at the level of Cabinet Office. This individual would have the responsibility and authority to run a process that sets inter-agency programme priorities, supported by a small, dedicated staff. Indeed, the best-laid plans are useful only if ends (specified as outcomes) and means (funds) match reasonably well.

Competition for scarce resources, unfortunately, is forever fierce in Jamaica. With Jamaica in an economic bind coupled with a police force severely understaffed, underfunded and under-resourced, decision-makers must decide whether we are merely creating another underfunded and under-resourced agency.

- Andrew King is a public-affairs analyst with an interest in national security and development policies. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and abking020@gmail.com.