AG speaks of safeguards to prevent abuse of the Interception of Communication law

Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon. Patrice Nisbett

ST. KITTS, FEBRUARY 15TH 2011 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon. Patrice Nisbett, says a new law passed in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly will serve as a significant deterrence to crime.

In an interview with the BBC Caribbean, the Nevisian-born lawmaker said there are safeguards to prevent abuse as there will be constant judicial supervision and monitoring of interception warrants and orders which are made by the High Court Judge.

The Interception of Communications Bill makes it legal for police to intercept all forms of telecommunications whether by the internet or telephone and allows the authorities to search people’s mails only with the permission of a High Court Judge.

Attorney General Nisbett said there are safeguards in replace to prevent abuse of the law and one such measure is that police officers would have to convince a High Court Judge to grant them permission to carry out wire tapping.

He said it is the criminals who should be worried about the new law.

“I believe criminals now understand that there is no confidentiality in criminal activities, in that criminals now must think that there is the possibility when they are conspiring together, plotting criminal activity and using technology there is a real possibility that law enforcement officials would or might be listening in on the various conversations and so one generally would refrain from committing crime when one feels that one would be detected and so if the criminal feels that the level of detection is increased, there is a likelihood that there would be perpetrators of a particular crime that would be eliminated if not reduced,” said Attorney General Nisbett.

He reiterated that the police would have to satisfy a judge that it is necessary to tap into people’s messages and there are provisions to prevent wily police officers making a proper case, yet still abusing the process.

“There are certain provisions in the legislation which speaks about a reporting requirement, also there are orders of certain duration and there are provisions in the legislation which clearly indicate if information is obtained that is not relevant to the particular offence, that information has to be destroyed,” said Attorney General Nisbett.

“There is constant judicial supervision and monitoring of interception warrants and orders which are made by the High Court Judge and there are certain provisions as to whom the information is disclosed to, how many copies may be made and there are provision as to the destruction of the information,” said the Attorney General.

He pointed out that the legislation clearly establishes a very independent tribunal headed by a sitting Judge of the High Court appointed by the Governor General on his own deliberate judgement.

“The tribunal has the necessary jurisdiction to hear complains that are made in relation to matters that are specifically pertaining to the interception of communication legislation,” the Attorney General pointed out.

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