KINGSTON — A Bill to amend the Interception of Communications Act was passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday July 13, 2011.
Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, who piloted the Bill, explained that a decision was taken to amend the Act to address the absence of extraterritorial communication, to facilitate the sharing of information with a foreign state or agents of that foreign state.
“Section four of the Act allows and authorises the officer to make an application to a judge of the Supreme Court, in Chambers, for a warrant authorising the person named in the warrant to intercept communication and for the disclosure of such communication to such persons and in such manner as maybe specified in the warrant,” Mr. Chuck said.
He added that the warrant must be necessary, inter alia, for the prevention or detection of any of the scheduled offences, where there are reasonable grounds for believing that such an offence has been, is being or is about to be committed.
“The judge having been satisfied of the reasons for interception, would issue a warrant allowing the party named in the warrant to intercept conversations of the suspected persons and use it for the purposes of conducting criminal investigations. The intercepted communication should only be in the custody of the authorised officer who made the application and persons named in the warrant,” Mr. Chuck explained.
“The judge shall also issue such directions, as he considers appropriate for the purposes of requiring the authorised officer to make such arrangements as necessary for ensuring that, inter alia, the number of persons to whom any of that communication is disclosed is limited to the minimum that is necessary for the purposes of the investigations in relation to which the warrant was issued or of any prosecution for an offence,” he added.
The disclosure of the intercepted communication however can only occur where there exists, between Jamaica and such foreign governments, an agreement for mutual exchange of that kind of information, and when the Minister certifies that it is in the public interest that such disclosures be made.
The Bill also amends the Act to provide for extraterritorial jurisdiction in respect of the offence of unauthorised disclosure of intercepted communications, set out in section 15 (2) of the Act. It will allow the government to prosecute persons, not in Jamaica, who disclose interceptions without permission.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter