Dames: NIA bill to be debated ‘very shortly’
Despite tabling the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Bill, 2017, last September, there is still no definite timeline on when that bill will be debated in Parliament.
However, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday insisted that it will be pushed through “very shortly”.
“I meet with our prime minister every week and during our briefing this morning we talked about a possible timetable for the National Intelligence Agency,” Dames told reporters in the Office of The Prime Minister, following the signing of the heads of agreement with Oban Energies for a new oil refinery and storage facility on Grand Bahama.
“It’s coming, and it’s part of a compendium of crime bills, that will shore up and continue to move this country in the right direction.”
Upon coming to office, the government disbanded the NIA, which had been in operation for five years under the Christie administration without legislation to govern it.
The Christie administration repeatedly promised to bring a bill to govern the NIA, but failed to do so.
The National Intelligence Agency Bill, 2017 proposes to establish an agency of the government that would be responsible for gathering intelligence that impacts the security of The Bahamas.
The objectives of the agency would be to coordinate intelligence gathering and joint strategic planning among various law enforcement agencies and government departments, so as to “ensure a more effective campaign against crime”.
The agency would also collect by investigation or otherwise “information and intelligence respecting activities that may on reasonable grounds be suspected of constituting threats to the security of The Bahamas”.
According to the bill, the agency would be under the control of the director, a position appointed by the governor general, acting on the advice of the prime minister.
The proposed legislation would provide for “agents” to be engaged at the agency.
The bill would also provide for an independent body, to be known as the Review Committee, to review and report to Parliament on the activities of the agency, and to review complaints against the agency.
Additionally, the bill would prohibit the disclosure of information to ensure that the identity of human resources is kept confidential.
The agency would be authorized with general powers of inquiry, search, arrest and seizure.