Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dominica considers wiretapping

From BBC Caribbean 02 April 2007

Prime Minister Skerrit promises consultation
The Dominica government has sought to give assurances that an act for the interception of communications won't be abused by the authorities.
The bill is currently in its first reading in parliament.

Some concern has been expressed by the main opposition United Workers Party and other groups that phone tapping allowed under the proposed legislation could target legitimate political activity.

But Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has indicated that the parliamentary process will allow for debate on the matter, and that his administration intends to engage in a consultative exercise on the new law.

PM Skerrit defends bill

"The allegations that the government of Dominica wants to tap private telephones or computers is false and misleading" the Prime Minister said.

He said the aim was to tackle criminal activity, and explained that there would be checks and balances put in place.

"The interception of telephone communication requires an authorised officer to request the Director of Public Prosecution to seek an order from a judge".

Prime Minister Skerrit said such requests could not be made arbitrarily:

"There must be sufficient grounds of suspicion and evidence to support the request" he said.

UWP rejects assurances

Those assurances have not convinced the opposition leader, Edison James.

UWP's Edison James not convinced

He conceded that fighting serious crime including terrorism would be facilitated by the proposed legislation, but argued that other less desirable action could also result.

"Another part of it is to give the government authority to be able to eavesdrop on people's communications in situations where people are simply involved in organising legitimate political activity in this country" James alleged.

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