KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – National Security Minister, Peter Bunting, says, the amendment to the Maritime Drug Trafficking (Suppression) Act is not intended to deprive Jamaicans of their rights but to strengthen the hand of the government in the fight against crime.
There have been concerns raised in the Senate regarding the legislation, which gives the National Security Minister the option to waive jurisdiction over nationals involved in the illicit narcotics or arms trade in international waters, who have been detained by a treaty state.
The legislators say there should be guidelines as to how this discretion is exercised. They also argue that allowing Jamaicans caught with contraband on the high seas, to face trial in another country, is taking away their right to be tried in their own country.
But Bunting told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that this notion is “completely misguided,” explaining that no Jamaican has the right to be tried in a Jamaican court if he or she commits an offence outside of the country.
He said, there is no such provision in the Jamaican Constitution or international law and this is why Jamaica has an extradition treaty.
Bunting noted also that a waiver is given for Jamaicans caught on a vessel transporting guns and drugs on the high seas, adding “we would only do that with states with which we have a treaty.
“These treaty states would have a judicial system, which would guarantee the right of fair trial for all occupants of that vessel,” he added.
Debate on the Bill was suspended to allow for further consultations and Bunting said that Justice Minister Mark Golding is looking into whether or not the concerns raised can be addressed.
But he insisted that Bill will reduce the number of illegal guns and ammunition that are used by criminals to wreak havoc in the society.
“We keep saying we must do something; now we are doing something which will strengthen the hands of Jamaica in cooperating with its international partners to address this issue,” he said.
The amendment was passed in the House of Representatives in September.