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Law nears to allow security forces to intercept communication of criminals - Chang

Published:Monday | July 8, 2019 | 12:00 AM
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The government says it is moving to boost the capacity of  the security forces to monitor communication by criminals and will soon pilot legislation as part of its crime fighting capacity.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang said that a review of the anti-gang legislation is near completion, with important amendments being examined, but indicated that the Andrew Holness government will not only be relying on that law to suppress gang activities.

“The Anti-Gang legislation will have two of three final sittings,” Chang said, adding “we are bringing to the House amendments to the Intercept of Communications Act to provide the security forces with an effect means of using modern technology to gather evidence in dealing with the criminal enterprises, the gangs, the dons and…the bringing of guns into the country.”

The Interception of Communications Act allows the security forces to tap the telephones of persons suspected of or accused of criminal involvement.

It authorises the interception of all of the communication of a specific person named in a warrant and enables authorised officers to request technical information from telecommunications service providers under the Telecommunications Act.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a state of emergency in the St Andrew South Police Division.

“In St Andrew South the main cause of death is caused by gangs. Violence is at epidemic proportions in Jamaica … the main cause of death is gangs, dons and guns,” Holness said.

From January 1 to June 29, this year, there were 94 murders in St Andrew South, up from 79 for the corresponding period last year.

Currently, there is a state of emergency in effect in the western parishes of Westmoreland, Hanover and St James. In January, a year-long state of public emergency expired in St James.

In describing the overall crime situation nationally, especially relative to murders, Holness declared that, “this is an epidemic and no one should tell that the country should be satisfied with it.

“The truth is that the level of crime is above the capacity of law enforcement to (effectively) respond. There have been 11,000 murders in the last eight years, and we do not have enough investigators,” said Holness, adding “the government is employing not just one strategy, but a raft of strategies that must complement each other”.

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