Creating and Maintaining the Just Society
The most telling and lasting long term contribution that will be made by you as a result of your successful participation in these learning exercises in a structured setting is the role that you will play as we move toward the creation and maintenance of the just society in Jamaica. For the real and lasting enhancement of the vast potential of the extremely talented people of our country will depend, in large measure, on the extent of the collective will to create and maintain that just society.
So, for example, the right to life is respected and fully protected in the just society in which no life is to be taken except by due process of law. Due process demands that punishment is exacted, and exacted only by the State, and only after the airing of issues and a finding of guilt in a court of law.
Due process, and by extension the just society, turns its face against vigilante attacks wherever they are carried out and by whomever, be they of high or lowly estate or learning. Due process, and by extension the just society, requires that investigations into offences be carried out in good faith and with respect for individual rights and the protection of civil liberties.
The essential raison d’etre, the real reason, for your participation in these programmes at the Justice Training Institute rests, therefore, on your being better prepared to contribute to the development of the just society. And, there is a signpost relationship between the two courses that have been undertaken which, in accordance with the mandate of the Justice Training Institute, is the training and certification of competent persons as having the requisite knowledge, skills and attitude to perform their tasks at the workplace in a more effective and efficient manner.
At the core of these exercises is the sharpening of the investigative skills of the various officers within their specific departments, divisions or units. You must be reminded that the investigative powers which you hold all have the potential to make inroads into individual rights, interests and entitlements under the law.
It is therefore important that these powers which you hold in trust for all members of our society are not abused as this would serve to undermine public confidence in law enforcement and impede attempts at controlling serious crime in our search for the just society. So I repeat: investigations must be pursued in good faith and with respect for and the protection of individual rights and liberties.
At the same time, success cannot be achieved through the work of any single individual or agency. There is the practical requirement that you create and maintain links with other local law enforcement and revenue personnel as well as with your foreign counterparts, since you will find that evidence needed for prosecution is often garnered from a variety of sources.
The Financial Investigations Division, for example, is required to work in a cooperative manner with the financial and other institutions from which it receives reports. General feedback on typologies and trends will serve to assist reporting entities in developing their compliance programmes. Updates and instructions on how to proceed in particular cases will serve to assist investigators in devising the best way of dealing with suspicious customers.
Nonetheless, in light of the sensitive nature of the information that will come to you in the course of investigations, it is vital that you respect the confidentiality of that data. Sharing of information must only be done within clearly defined parameters, as permitted by law, since careless and other divulgence of that data can lead to untold ills. Respect for such confidentiality which, I repeat, you hold in trust, is seminal to the development of the just society.
Objective of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financial Controls
I thought I would saw a few words on the objective of money laundering and terrorist financial controls. Money laundering controls developed, initially, in the war against the trafficking in and the use of illicit drugs. The idea was to target the wealth of drug lords, directly and indirectly, in order to achieve two goals:
To deprive them of the illicit fruits of their labour; and
To deprive them of the resources that are required to commit further crimes.
On every continent, there has been the general recognition that, not only crimes related to the drug trade, but indeed the majority of crimes are motivated by the desire for personal riches. This has led several countries to extend their money laundering laws to deal with most serious offences that generate wealth. The message is simple: “take the profit out of crime”, if the just society is to be created.
Even though we have had money laundering legislation here in Jamaica for over a decade, the need to develop a more comprehensive legislative framework has led to the efforts being made to enact the Proceeds of Crime Act. It is to be specifically noted that, among the many features of that proposed law, is the extension of money laundering to all types of criminal conduct.
Jamaica’s International Obligations
The influence of the international community on Jamaica’s social and economic development cannot be overstated. By virtue of membership in several treaty arrangements and international bodies, Jamaica is under constant pressure to abide by the ever rising international standard.
To name a few, Jamaica is party to the Vienna Convention on drugs, the Palermo Convention on organized crime and the United Nations Convention dealing with the suppression of the financing of terrorism.
Jamaica is also a member of the regional initiative of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, known as the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, which outlines a number of recommendations for best practices. Even though these recommendations are not strictly legally binding under international law, there are a number of negative implications which may flow from non-compliance.
For example, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force has, on occasions, published a list of Non Cooperative Countries and Territories where those listed jurisdictions fall below many of its recommendations. Jamaica therefore cannot afford to be named on any such list since there are serious economic consequences. Such type of negative listing affects a country’s ability to obtain international financial aid and it discourages legitimate financial investment.
Role of Financial Investigators
We can now appreciate why such strenuous efforts are being made to upgrade our existing legislation and the focus placed on the kind of training that you receive, so that those laws may be properly implemented. Indeed, having suitable laws constitutes only the first step in ensuring a successful anti-money laundering regime. The next critical step is the enforcement of such laws.
It is clear that there are several challenges surrounding the control of criminal financial activities, particularly since the modus operandi of the perpetrators is characterized by secrecy. So that, you will also encounter many attempts by such criminals to frustrate the process and it will come home to you forcibly that detection, investigation and prosecution require enormous effort – and perhaps some luck – even with the best of legislation.
Your duty is essentially to ferret out such crimes but you will also come to realize that, often, finding a money laundering trend may feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Sheer endurance and determination is necessary, as it is your analysis of all the various types of information and reports that you receive, and your subsequent investigations, that will put the pieces of the puzzle together and build a case against those who seek to commit serious financial crimes, activities that are poisonous to the creation of the just society.
And so, Jamaica has embarked, in earnest, on the path to controlling money laundering and terrorist financing. The high incidence of violence here in Jamaica, must surely serve as a motivating force to enhance our efforts. Further, as a responsible member of the international community, Jamaica has a duty to ensure that we participate fully in the fight against international financial crimes.
We in the Ministry of Justice are satisfied that the partnership that is being forged between the Justice Training Institute and several public and private sector organs has a direct bearing on the development of the just society. Increasingly, the Institute is being required to respond to the specific needs of its partners.
We note that employees of those partners who are trained at the Institute are drawn from right across the island and that much of the training is job specific.
We wish, therefore, both to congratulate you the successful participants and to signal our approval of the work of the Justice Training Institute as it continues to offer ongoing paralegal, technical and professional programmes and courses aimed at improving the capabilities of personnel within the public and private sectors.
The offering of these two programmes signals the Institute’s flexibility and responsiveness to the identified needs within the justice system and associated agencies. It also signals the growing confidence of organizations and individuals in the quality of the training that is being offered at the Institute.
This partnership between the Institute and these and other organs within Jamaica, we believe, is paramount in our endeavour to establish and maintain the just society here in our country.
Our heartiest congratulations!
Creating and Maintaining the Just Society