KINGSTON, Oct. 29 :
The Government has signed a new bilateral security cooperation agreement with the United States (US) that will assist in the fight against transnational criminal activities.
This was disclosed by the Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, at today’s (October 29) sitting of 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 activities out of Jamaica,” the Security Minister said.
He informed that a similar agreement with Canada should be concluded in short order. “We will operate under a different protocol with the United Kingdom, which is also being finalised,” he said.
Dr. Chang noted that the Agreement with the United States 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. Those countries remain our primary long-standing partners in security operations, and will remain so under this Government,” he said.
He advised that the new agreement was necessary, given the fact that early last year, the Supreme Court found that the existing memorandum of understanding (MOU), which allowed for the use of intercepted information in prosecuting members of transnational criminal organisations, was unsatisfactory and inadequate.
“In spite of the failure of this agreement, we have, in fact, continued to work with our partners and in some ways we have strengthened our arrangements and increased our activity in the Caribbean through the improved capacity of the Maritime, Air and Cyber Command of the Jamaica Defence Force,” the Minister said.
“Given the legal implications, we had to discontinue any work under the MOU. The Ministry 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,” he added.
Dr. Chang noted that the protocol for security cooperation must satisfy the country’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms that protects Jamaican citizens from arbitrary action.
He said the partners, which include the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, have been critical long-standing bilateral partners in security operations in the Caribbean, adding that these security relations are underpinned by several long-standing treaties, protocols and agreements.