Jamaica signs new MOU with US

Jamaica signs new MOU with US

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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JAMAICA'S security minister confirmed yesterday that the country has signed a new security arrangement with the United States for the interception of communications.

Dr Horace Chang told the House of Representatives that the new arrangements became necessary after the Supreme Court had found that the MOU (memorandum of understanding) signed between the then Government and the United States in 2006 was “unsatisfactory and inadequate”, which he said meant that the use of that MOU was “unlawful”.

“An inadequate legal agreement is unlawful. I can tell the public it is unlawful,” Dr Chang said in response to Opposition questions following his statement on the new development.

The 2006 MOU allowed for the use by United States security agencies of intercepted information in prosecuting members of transnational criminal organisations, and played a critical role in the extradition of former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher “Dudus” Coke in 2010.

A commission of enquiry that looked into the 2010 Tivoli Gardens security team operation, which led to Coke's capture and extradition to the US to face charges of drug trafficking charges, had found in 2011 that it was not intended by Parliament for the Interception of Communications Act to authorise disclosure of records to foreign governments.

On this view, the supply of Coke's telephone records to the US Government agencies was, therefore, a breach of his constitutional rights, the commission had found.

“Given the legal implications we had to discontinue any work under the [previous] MOU. The ministries of national security, foreign affairs and the Attorney General's Chambers embarked on intensive negotiations to ensure that we had an agreement that satisfied the lawful requirements of Jamaica,” Dr Chang told the House.

“Any such protocol for security cooperation must satisfy our Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms that protects Jamaican citizens from arbitrary action,” he told the House of Representatives.

“I am pleased to announce today that last week Wednesday, October 23, 2019, we signed with our US partners a new agreement, which we expect to satisfy the legal requirements of our constitution, and will provide a strong basis for increased cooperation and operationalising all arrangements in fighting transnational criminal activity out of Jamaica,” said Dr Chang.

“We expect to conclude a similar agreement with Canada in short order. We will operate under a different protocol with the United Kingdom, which is also being finalised,” he added.

Dr Chang also challenged suggestions by the Opposition that the Government has since signed an agreement with the much-feared Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad.

He said that the new agreement with the US was pursued with the full knowledge of the Cabinet.

“There was no secret arrangement, and we so inform the House today, having come to a conclusion. The ABC countries (the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom) remain our primary long-standing partners in security operations and will remain so under this Government,” he noted.

Pressed by Opposition spokesman on national security, Fitz Jackson, to explain Government's dealings with Israeli intelligence, Dr Chang said: “We don't have any Israeli agreement. That's a mischievous comment…There is no agreement. No secret agreement. No agreement at all. We have said that before…Any agreement, and any legal document we do, must satisfy our contribution and the laws of Jamaica,” Dr Chang responded.



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