Bunting says anti-gang legislation lackingMonday, June 14, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Former Minister of National Security Senator Peter Bunting says that the main reason for the lack of success of the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) Act, also known as the anti-gang legislation, is the lack of the investigative capacity to penetrate criminal gangs.
Speaking in the debate on the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) (Amendment) Act, 2021, which is the latest attempt to improve the performance of the Act in fighting major crimes, Senator Bunting said this was the situation which led to the creation of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).
Bunting, while admitting that the public's unfamiliarity with the details of the Act, after five years in operation, and the prosecutors' preference for predicate offences, which are much less feared and carry lesser sentences, contribute to the underperformance of the legislation, said the lack of the investigative capacities to penetrate the gangs is the strongest reason.
“I really believe that while the first two reasons are true, the strongest reason why we have had such disappointment is that we need to build our intelligence gathering, and our investigative capacities to penetrate the criminal organisations,” Bunting said.
“We started MOCA, because we realised that the sort of personnel that was needed to put in charge of these cases was a very high level person,” he said, noting that often the investigators relied primarily on witness evidence which is often unreliable.
He said that what is needed is to go for the money laundering aspect of the criminal organisations, as prosecutors would go after them on the business side of their operations.
However, he said to sustain that level of investigation would require highly qualified forensic accountants and forensic auditors “who would not normally be pursuing a career in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). Bunting was the Minister of National Security when the Act was passed by the Parliament in 2014.
The Senate agreed to postpone the closure of the debate to this week, in order for the members to further discuss any possible changes to the Bill. It was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 1, piloted by the Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang.
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