Jamaica’s Anti-Terrorism Efforts Lauded


The Government of Jamaica has been receptive and timely in its submission of reports on its anti-terrorism efforts to the United Nations Security Council.
Michael De Feo, Expert on Terrorism in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Terrorism, has said that the Government’s responsiveness was exemplary and demonstrated the country’s serious interest in implementing anti-terrorism legislation.
Addressing representatives of the media and private sector groups today (April 15) at the closing session of a seminar on Jamaica’s pending anti-terrorism legislation hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Mr. De Feo revealed that the Jamaican government had been “conscientious” and to date, “have submitted reports to the UN’s Counter-Terrorism Committee in December 2001, May and December of 2002 and July of 2003.”
Making reference to the UN’s Resolution 1373, which calls for all member states of the UN to enact laws strongly opposing terrorism, Mr. De Feo informed the gathering that the reports from Jamaica “have acknowledged the need for legislation to implement Resolution 1373 and the anti-terrorism conventions and protocols being considered for adoption.”
“This is a time,” he said, “when the global community is striving to construct a seamless network of international agreements, supported by effective national legislation, to ensure that there is no safe haven for terrorists, that the financing of terrorism is prevented, and that violent terrorist acts are criminalized.”
Jamaica’s appeal as an attractive tourist destination for foreign nationals is a double-edged reality. Though the country’s tourism-related coffers may reap rewards, the presence of foreigners who visit the island also makes Jamaica a target where terrorist acts could be committed.
According to Mr. De Feo, “the history of terrorism demonstrates a sad record of attacks on tourist destinations, like Bali, on cruise ships and airports filled with the kind of innocent vacationers who enjoy Jamaica so much; and on countries that had never imagined themselves subject to terrorism, like Tanzania and Kenya.”
As such, he reiterated the need for Jamaica “to complete the legislative process as soon as possible,” to bring the Bill to counter terrorism into being.
“Remember that the perfect is often the enemy of the possible in the legislative area,” he stated, “by that I mean that insisting upon what each community group may consider ideal legislative language may result in no action at all, at a time when delay may contribute to tragedy or prevent murderers of innocent (persons) from being brought to justice.” Offering his comments on the Terrorism Prevention Act that is to be submitted to Parliament soon, Mr. De Feo was complimentary, noting, “it seems to be a comprehensive effort to address the major issues outlined in Resolution 1373.”
Given the international legal regime against terrorism, he said: “The bill focuses on the right problems, takes into account the necessary standards and considerations and offers solutions which do not appear to offend any internationally recognized human rights standards.”
He added that while the bill’s language bore similarities with those of other countries as well as model instruments developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat and other advisory bodies, “that does not mean the bill is entitled to be adopted in its present form if there are improvements that could better reflect Jamaican needs and Jamaican concerns.” The seminar which was hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade over a three-day period, was devised to provide the opportunity for a wide cross-section of the Jamaican public, ranging from the legal and church communities to persons in academia and human rights associations, to offer their criticisms and suggestions of the proposed anti-terrorism legislation.

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