The new strategy is to be facilitated by the introduction of legislation that would provide the legal framework for the police to intercept the communications of suspected criminals, who are thought to be involved in the planning and execution of activities of crime and violence.
The decision to introduce the Interception of Communication Bill was announced by the country’s head of government, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, on Thursday 19 August, while addressing local media organizations.
The Prime Minister told reporters that, “I emphasize today that criminals are using cell phones, parcels and courier services and other forms of modern technology to take what is not theirs. They are using these to maim and kill whomever they wish, including sometimes, what have been described as the wrong person, according to the police. They wreak havoc in homes and neighbourhoods across the federation.”
The Prime Minister said that, “They use this technology, (cell phones), to lure young girls from their class rooms; to create bedlam in our hospitals, putting our doctors and our nurses under undue stress and pressure.”
“Violence and brutality must be stamped out and we will therefore fight fire with fire and technology with technology, wherever crime is concerned,” said Dr. Douglas. He said however that, government will do so within the confines of the laws of the federation of St. Kitts & Nevis and we will do so, subject to the keen review and guidance of our courts.
“This government will not sit idly by while the criminals, who are few, run rough-shod over the law-abiding many within our country. It is the duty of my government to protect the innocent and this we will do,” said Douglas. He accepted that it is also the duty of the government to ensure that the rights of the country’s citizens are protected.
The Prime Minister therefore gave the assurance that the government will do everything to protect the privacy rights of every citizen in the country.
“Under the terms of this new legislation, it will be a High Court judge only, who will decide whether or not any particular interception will be allowed. Even when the security forces are confident that a crime has been, or is about to be committed, and even when they are absolutely certain that the interception of a particular person’s communication would yield very powerful evidence, they would none the less, in every single case, they would have to seek the permission of a High Court judge, before any interception whatsoever, can go forward,” said the Prime Minister.
It is the High Court judge, who would always have the sole and absolute authority to allow or to disallow, any such interception.
“The Judicial Branch in St. Kitts & Nevis is independent of the Executive or Legislative Branches of our government and in the proposed Bill, the jurisdictional and this independence will be completely maintained,” promised Dr. Douglas.