At its meeting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the government introduced an amendment to the Interception of Communications Act to include the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit.
The initial Interception of Communication Act which was passed into law in 2010, listed only the Director of Public Prosecution as the state agent who can apply to a Supreme Court judge to order an intercept of a person’s communications who is suspected of committing a crime.
But now the amendment to the intercept law will empower the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit to make an application for an interception direction to the Supreme Court.
In the principal Act, wherever the words Director of Public Prosecution appears, it is to be followed by the words Director of Financial Intelligence Unit.
Government’s legal advisor in the Ministry of Finance Ghian Ghandi told Reporter on Thursday that information gathered from an intercept of communications can be used as evidence in the court, but the method by which the information was gathered cannot be questioned in the proceedings.
“One cannot ask how the information was gathered in court,” Ghandi stressed.
When it was first passed into law in 2010, the Interception of Communication Act was hailed by the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow as one of the tools that government had planned to use to combat crime.
The safeguard that is built into the law is that a judge of the Supreme Court must be convinced, before an intercept permission is granted to the DPP, and now, when the amendment becomes law, the Director of Financial Intelligence Unit.
Government has also advanced the argument that communication interception can also serve valid national security concerns.