Council considering enhanced security measures

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness, during the monthly sitting of the National Security Council last Friday, proposed a new legislative framework, giving intermediate and specific powers to the security forces.

According to a Jamaica House release, the prime minister, while noting that the overall crime rate is comparatively lower than the same period in 2018, expressed his concerns about “the unacceptable levels of murders and shootings across the country”.

He then proposed the legislative framework, giving more powers to the security forces, in the context of the discontinuation of the States of Public Emergency (SOE).

The proposed enhanced security measures, Jamaica House said, would empower the security forces with the tools deemed necessary to disrupt criminal networks, reduce violence and increase public order.

The proposed measures agreed by the council included:

1. The existence of conditions to trigger and sustain the measures;

2. A system of accountability and judicial recourse to protect the rights of citizens;

3. Specific powers provided, such as search and detention; and

4. Persons designated with responsibility for use of such powers.

Said Jamaica House: “The Government considers it to be an important piece of legislation and is moving towards its completion. Notwithstanding, the proposed new legislation, the prime minister emphasised that the use of the State of Public Emergency was still a viable option to be implemented for the safety and protection of the people.

Additionally, the council reviewed the progress that has been made with other legislation which will contribute to improvements in national security. These included, inter alia, Amendments to the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act; Amendments to the Firearms Act, Amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act, and Amendments to the Bail Act.

The council also received a presentation from the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), to examine measures to improve border security and reduce Jamaica's vulnerability to transnational crime. This included a review of current operations, security arrangements and capacity gaps, and concluded with recommendations to further build the capacity of PICA and enhance the security of the country's ports.

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