National Security Minister Stuart Young disclosed that he received a voice note from a prisoner requesting a phone call.
“I will tell the population here today that on the weekend provided to me as Minister of National Security was a voice note sent by a prisoner giving me his cell phone number saying ‘call me, we need to have a conversation’. That is what is going on and now what we are trying to do is criminalise that because it is unacceptable for this to continue,” said Young.
He was speaking during the debate of the The Interception of Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2020 at the Senate sitting at the Red House yesterday.
Young said prisoners cannot be allowed to communicate with persons on the outside and the amendment to the legislation will make this an offence- both for the prisoner and the person contacted on the outside.
The Minister also noted that because of “smart phones” there are different encrypted means to communicate such as Whatshapp and Telegram and so power are needed to examine data and stored information.
He noted that there have been breakthrough in investigations where information is forensically pulled from devices.
“When you pull a device of persons in a Carnival terror threat and you see some of what they had- how to attacks a convoy, how to make a bomb using things you can buy in a hardware, what are the travel routes of certain people. Why shouldn’t we allow law enforcement now to use what was picked up from that device as evidence in a criminal case?” he said.
Young referred to an article: Contraband in cell phones in prisons quickly becoming a national crisis by Ann Emerson which spoke to illegal phones being dropped into prisons in Washington via drones and smuggled by officers.
He assured that there are measures in place locally to ensure the laws with respect to interception are not abused.
Young noted that a few months ago legalisation was brought to the Parliament to make illegal phones in the prisons a crime.
“We are saying to those who participate in this type of behaviour, those who may be communicating with persons who are incarcerated, some of them for murder, helping them to carry out their criminal acts and activities... we can charge you for it....There is no legitimate reason for anyone to be communicating with a prisoner other than the legal and designated means which is more than sufficient.” he said.
He said prisoners give instructions to those on the outside to continue their criminal activities.
He said there is a limit to the type of proceedings the amendments will apply to- criminal proceedings, proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Extradition Commonwealth and Foreign Territories Act, the Anti Terrorism Act, the Civil Asset recovery and management and unexplained Act.
Young said further that the father of a prison officer professed his love to him for the measures put in place to protect officers.
Young said the man’s son was saved on two occasions because of intercepted information.