Bunting, Smith showdown?

Monday, May 18, 2015

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A major confrontation seems to be brewing between Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting, and Opposition spokesman, Derrick Smith.

At the base of the issue are the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Evidence Act, 2015, tabled in Parliament on April 29, and the Minister's announcement that the Major Organised Crime and Anti Corruption Agency (MOCA) will be divorced from the leadership of the police high command.

Smith says the DNA Bill should be the subject of a joint select committee review so that private individuals and organisations can submit their views as some of the provisions raises several issues.

Bunting, however, maintains confidence that the DNA Evidence Act will withstand any constitutional challenges. He said that prior to tabling the Bill, he had the input of the Attorney General's Department, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Legal Reform Department, as the Bill includes provisions for the compulsory taking of samples from criminal suspects.

Bunting also announced at the end of April that the cabinet has issued drafting instructions for legislation to establish the Major Organised Crime and Anti Corruption Agency (MOCA) as a statutory body, independent of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

However, Smith is insisting that the Opposition will not support an official crime agency being placed under the leadership of the minister, instead of the Commissioner of Police. The police's Anti-Corruption Branch was merged into MOCA during 2014.

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