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NSC agrees on critical elements of Enhanced Security Measures

Published:Tuesday | March 5, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The proposed Enhanced Security Measures legislation considered last Friday by the National Security Council (NSC) will include, among other things, a provision that will allow law enforcement to carry out searches and detentions and identify persons designated with responsibility for use of such powers.

The NSC, which is chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, also agreed on another two elements for the framework of the draft Enhanced Security Measures legislation. These are conditions that must exist to trigger and sustain the measures and system of accountability and judicial recourse to protect the rights of citizens.

The proposed law is being discussed as the Government seeks to find measures to tackle crime and violence without having to declare a state of public emergency. The parliamentary Opposition voted for the discontinuation of the states of public emergency in Kingston, St James and St Catherine, citing human rights concerns in relation to the detention of persons over extended periods.

More power for security forces

During the meeting, the prime minister raised concerns about the unacceptable levels of murders and shootings across the country. However, it was observed that the overall crime rate, year to date, comparatively, is lower than in 2018.

Holness proposed a new legislative framework giving intermediate and specific powers to the security forces, as a result of the discontinuation of the (SOE). The release said the measures were discussed to empower the security forces with the tools deemed necessary to disrupt criminal networks, reduce violence, and increase public order.

According to the release, notwithstanding the proposed new legislation, the prime minister emphasised that the use of states of public emergency was still a viable option that could be implemented for the safety and protection of all Jamaicans.

Additionally, the NSC reviewed the progress that has been made with other pieces of legislation that will contribute to improvements in national security. These included amendments to the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act, amendments to the Firearms Act, amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act, and amendments to the Bail Act.