JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says the amendment to the Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) Act is not intended to deprive Jamaicans of their rights but to instead, strengthen the hand of the Government in the fight against crime.
  • He was speaking to JIS News regarding concerns raised in the Senate on Friday, December 4, in relation to the Bill, which gives the National Security Minister the option to waive jurisdiction over nationals involved in the illicit narcotics or arms trade in international waters, who have been detained by a treaty state.
  • Senators, in expressing concerns said there should be some guidelines as to how this discretion is exercised.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says the amendment to the Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) Act is not intended to deprive Jamaicans of their rights but to instead, strengthen the hand of the Government in the fight against crime.

He was speaking to JIS News regarding concerns raised in the Senate on Friday, December 4, in relation to the Bill, which gives the National Security Minister the option to waive jurisdiction over nationals involved in the illicit narcotics or arms trade in international waters, who have been detained by a treaty state.

Senators, in expressing concerns said there should be some guidelines as to how this discretion is exercised.

They also argue that allowing Jamaicans caught with contraband on the high seas, to face trial in another country, is taking away their right to be tried in their own country.

Minister Bunting noted, however, that this notion is “completely misguided,” explaining that no Jamaican has the right to be tried in a Jamaican court if he or she commits an offence outside of the country.

He said there is no such provision in the Jamaican constitution or international law and this is why Jamaica has an extradition treaty.

Minister Bunting noted further that, to the extent that a waiver is given for Jamaicans caught on a vessel transporting guns and drugs via the high seas “we would only do that with states with which we have a treaty.”

“These treaty states would have a judicial system, which would guarantee the right of fair trial for all occupants of that vessel,” he pointed out.

Debate on the Bill was suspended to allow for further consultations with Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting.

Minister Bunting informed that Minister of Justice, Hon. Mark Golding, is looking to see the extent to which the concerns raised can be addressed.

The Minister, in noting the importance of the Bill, said it will reduce the number of illegal guns and ammunition that are used by criminals to wreak havoc in the society.

“We keep saying we must do something; now we are doing something which will strengthen the hands of Jamaica in cooperating with its international partners to address this issue,” he said.

The amendment was passed in the House of Representatives in September. At the time, Minister Bunting argued that there are logistical and financial challenges in successfully prosecuting persons caught with contraband through the Jamaican courts.