Mr. Speaker, I am here today to update the House on critical security issues. The ABC partners (United States, Canada and the United Kingdom) have been critical longstanding bilateral partners in security operations in the Caribbean. These security relations are underpinned by several longstanding treaties, protocols and Agreements. Among these, was a Memorandum of Understanding which allowed for the use of intercepted information in prosecuting members of transnational criminal organizations.
Early last year the highest court in the land, the Jamaica Supreme Court, found that this MoU was unsatisfactory and inadequate. In spite of the failure of this Agreement we have in fact continued to work with our partners and in some ways we have strengthened our arrangements and increased our activity in the Caribbean through the improved capacity of the Maritime, Air and Cyber Command of the Jamaica Defence Force.
Given the legal implications, we had to discontinue any work under the MoU. The Ministry of National Security, Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General’s Chambers embarked on intensive negotiations to ensure that we had an Agreement that satisfied the lawful requirements of Jamaica.
Mr. Speaker, any such protocol for security cooperation must satisfy our Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms that protects Jamaican citizens from arbitrary action.
I am pleased to announce today, that last week Wednesday, October 23, 2019 we signed with our US partners a new Agreement which we expect to satisfy the legal requirements of our constitution, and will provide a strong basis for increased cooperation and operationalizing all arrangements in fighting transnational criminal activity out of Jamaica.
We expect to conclude a similar Agreement with Canada in short order. We will operate under a different protocol with the United Kingdom, which is also being finalized.
I want to inform the House that this Agreement with the United States was pursued with the full knowledge of our Cabinet. There was no secret arrangement, and we so inform the House today, having come to a conclusion. The ABC countries remain our primary longstanding partners in security operations, and will remain so under this Government.