TCI News

Legislation to use cell phone activity in criminal cases coming for Turks & Caicos

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Island s- September 17, 2020 — Turks and Caicos is advancing toward new legislation which will give law enforcement the power to use cell phone activity, locations and messages as evidence in criminal investigations.

Head of National Security, Nigel Dakin, governor of the Turks and Caicos said the territory is actually lagging behind in the legislative framework which could bolster criminal cases and lead to more convictions.

“…this Territory stands almost alone in the world – and is certainly an anomaly compared to other Caribbean OT’s – and most independent Caribbean States – in not providing law enforcement with the ability to benefit from what is known as ‘Legal Intercept’; the ability to capture not just voice but also the type of data that modern telephony provides in terms of uncovering criminal networks or enterprises.”

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In Jamaica, creation of their Interception of Communications Act dates back to 2002, with amendments made in 2013. 

In The Bahamas, an identical piece of legislation failed to stand up in parliamentary debate and was shelved in 2017.  Human rights attorney, Fred Smith, had argued the unconstitutionality of Interception Bill and called for possible modernisation of 1972’s Listening Devices Act in The Bahamas.

The United Kingdom in 2000 repealed and replaced its Interception Act with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Like the statue in the Cayman Islands, the UK version outlines two basic things; the conditions which necessitate seizure of telephone or cell phone communication and the conditions which make obtaining this sensitive and private information illegal.

The Governor shared that the PDM Government Administration supports taking this legislation forward in the interest of cracking down on crime. 

During the national press conference on National Security held Tuesday, the governor firmly expressed having the ordinance enacted will enhance police investigations and improve on the quality of evidence for criminal trials.

This is a capability they cannot be without and the technical and legislative work – with proper democratic protections through warranty – has to now move forward at pace. We have this Administration’s, and the UK’s support, to take this forward – and we must,” said Governor Dakin.

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