RAT IN MI KITCHEN

If you are asking me generally who is likely to be the subject of such an order I would say just as generally criminals and the criminal classes." Prime Minister Dean Barrow – August 6, 2010 If at first you don‟t succeed, re-compost and re-cycle it again – a manifesto for a brave new “green world”. It is not the first time that the Prime Minister has tried with this. On January 21, 2009, 20 long months ago, while touting his “5 million dollar city renewal program to offer jobs to gangaffiliated youth”, Barrow stated “I have had my own advice on this matter and I believe based on that advice that we can begin telephone intercepts under the current state of the law. The only drawback is that I am not sure about the evidence gathered, the material gathered, can help us to perhaps prevent crimes, I don’t know if you need to put some of that evidence in court under the current law we can do that. There might be a need then to do a whole new Bill to provide for that. But I am determined given all that’s happening that we should, either under the current law or under a new law, use this tool of telecommunications intercept to assist our intelligence gathering.” (emphasis added) Many wits have long enjoyed the inherent oxymoronic qualities that reside in the phrase “intelligence gathering”, but in truth, when wielded by the state, we all laugh at those words with more than a tinge of fear, and lots of “cole seed”. Tek bad ting mek joke. We Cruffy excel at that. On January 22, 2009, Channel 5 News referred to it as “Big Brother “planning to tap your phone line”, invoking George Orwell‟s toe-curling novel, 1984. The resulting backlash led to some heavy-footed tiptoeing around the issue of wiretapping, phone intercepts, communications surveillance, electronic monitoring or whatever YOU choose to call it. No less a heavyweight than the ComPol, Gerald Westby, on March 12, 2009, tried to relieve fears on a Channel 5 News interview by “expounding” on how the “new option “ was going to be used “without violating people‟s right to privacy”. Perhaps unwittingly, Westby made matters worse by attempting to assure us that the “option” was already available under the Terrorist and Money Laundering Act - after all, we‟ve now seen how at least one of those accusations can be used, and against whom. It was also Westby who revealed the law‟s provenance – Jamaica and “other regional legislations”. But GOB, in the search for “more comprehensive legislation” was not satisfied by „just‟ patterning a new law off an „old‟ 2002 Jamaican Interception of Communications Act. In fact, expert help had already been called in. The PUC acquired, in January of 2009, a “clumsy looking white Toyota Prado” worth an estimated million dollars. Israeli surveillance experts,

according to News 5, had been in Belize since 2008, and stayed into 2009. To date, no one really knows what that dome on top of that vehicle really does. It is clear now that tools were being gathered for the toolbox. Fast Forward, now, to August 6th, 2010, and fully armed and finally ready, the Prime Minister, himself, presented the Interception of Communications Act for First Reading in the House. Not the brand new Attorney General, not the newly-minted Police Minister, but the P.M. personally, shouldered the heavyweight Bill on his own. It is important, clearly – but why should you care? After all, YOU are not a terrorist. You do not launder money – except by accident on wash day when you forget to turn out your jeans pocket. You are not even a “general” (or common) criminal. So? First off, this Bill is cutting edge – it targets all forms of communication crypted and unencrypted (Israeli expertise pays off) and comprises under section 2 (1) “speech, music, sounds, visual images or data of any description”. Why is spying on your music, crime fighting critical - or important for National Security? And what other data? Your private health information? Your Astrological Sun Sign? Your DNA? Unlike in Jamaica, an “authorized Officer” in Belize is not confined to the ComPol or to officers in charge of internal security or the National Firearm and Drug Intelligence Centre, Chief of Staff or head of Military Intelligence. In Belize, this also includes “a person authorized in writing to act on behalf of the Commissioner of Police”, under section 2(1) (b). We‟re still only on page one. Stick with me. The definition of Interception Device includes Magic Jacks and Skype and includes your Face Book page and your LimeWire and Bit Torrent connection. Yes. Under Section 3, any person who “with intent” intercepts communication in the course of its transmission, commits an offence. No word on what happens if there is an “oopsie”. “A judge in chambers will have to make an order. The DPP as I said will have to make the application for such an order and will have to satisfy the judge that the order is absolutely required in the circumstances and absolutely justified” P.M Barrow Absolutely? Sounds safe? Not quite. Section 6 (1) says that an interception direction shall be issued if a Judge is satisfied that there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that it is necessary to obtain the information sought under the interception direction in the interests (inter alia) of “public morality, public health or public order” and that the information cannot be successfully gotten otherwise, urgent and in the “best interest of the administration of justice.” Lots of scope for mischief, political and otherwise, there.

An interception direction can also be obtained in respect of a multitude of offences including the serious felonies, and also things like Tax Evasion, Subversion (which is practically a teenage religion), as well as the all purpose offence of “Threatening and intimidation”. Yes they can, spy on you, if you “bad taak” a politician or look too buff next to wah wingy officer. Jamaica‟s law allowed for a maximum period of 90 days. Belize‟s proposed Bill goes for double, and section 8 (5) allows for six months, but, can be renewed, at any time before it expires. That‟s a whopping 180 days PLUS. We introduce an “entry warrant” under Section 9(1). They can enter your home and bug it so tight, you won‟t even be able to make a mobile call without feedback or watch a clear cable feed anymore – check section 9(5)(b). Your very own hi-fi Wi-Fi castle. And if you are taken to Court, under the terms of section 21 , you are not entitled to ask any questions of the DPP or “any authorized officer” or anybody else (including the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus) as to the very issuance of an “interception direction”, “warrant” or order , whether it has already happened or “is going to occur”. If that does not boil you, you have no blood. You are supposed to sleep well after this? This is only the first look. I promise more, and deeper. This Bill is one YOU better understand and well. It is weighty. It is heavy. It is rife with the aroma of imagination of the possibilities for abuse and misuse. Take it lightly at your own peril. Me? I‟m in my kitchen singing one of my favorite UB40 songs.

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