JIS News

The government is seeking to establish a National Intelligence Agency (NIA), which would provide intelligence to inform state decision-making on strategic or policy issues that go beyond supporting planned operations.

As proposed, the NIA will be an independent civilian state agency mandated to gather strategic information, process it into strategic intelligence and provide the government with timely advice on matters of strategic importance. The body is not intended to replace any existing intelligence organization, but will instead fill a major gap in existing national capabilities. The NIA is one of several measures identified in the ‘National Security Strategy’ presented to the House of Representatives for review and approval by National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, recently.

The document, which was tabled as a Green Paper, outlines a tactical approach to allow for the coordination of crime-fighting measures and collaboration between key entities within the security sector to enhance citizen security. Also covered within the main mandate of the NIA will be the establishment of bilateral and other agreements to ensure that there is adequate information/intelligence sharing with international partners. The structure of the proposed body will allow for parliamentary oversight.

While the body will not exercise control over the existing operational intelligence arms of the government, there will be cooperation and co-coordinating roles. In addition, the necessary protocols will be developed to ensure effective exchange of information and assessments with operational intelligence bodies including the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and Jamaica Customs, among others.

In its initial stages, the NIA will be located at the Ministry of National Security and the Cabinet office in the long-term. Meanwhile, the establishment of a National Intelligence Consultative Group (NICG) is also being proposed to strengthen the island’s intelligence apparatus. This group will seek to develop terms of reference, functional responsibilities, cooperative mechanisms (local and overseas), coordinating functions, reporting responsibilities and oversight arrangements for Jamaica’s intelligence system.Dr. Phillips emphasized that the National Security Strategy was not a new crime-fighting plan and did not seek to replace current initiatives against crime and violence. He said the tabling of the paper was intended to provide parliamentarians with an opportunity to review the contents while noting that it was expected that elected representatives would play an integral role in the dissemination of the document to their constituents to enable public discussion. The Security Minister said it was hoped that feedback would be received by the end of March after which the document would be formally promulgated with the necessary adjustments as a White Paper.

The National Security Strategy evolved out of an assessment of the potential threats to the country’s security, in which eight strategic goals were identified in order to guard against possible dangers. These include: the reduction of violent crime and the dismantling of criminal networks; strengthening the criminal justice system; protecting against potential terrorism threats; border control and protection; strengthening of the integrity of democratic institutions; and contributing to regional and international security. Other goals are: to create the environment for a stable economy and the effective and equitable delivery of social services; protecting natural resources as well as mitigating against natural disasters. The recommendations for achieving the goals include: strengthening the national intelligence systems and establishing a civilian intelligence agency; the establishment of a national task force to strengthen the overall effectiveness of the criminal justice system; enhancing capacities to promote community safety and security and conducting further reviews of critical national security agencies such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Defence Force and Immigration.

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