Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said The Bahamas and the United States are working to exchange diplomatic notes in an effort to combat human trafficking.
During the signing of the Seventh Amendment Letter of Agreement on Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, Mr. Mitchell stated that the diplomatic notes will, in effect, be “a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on the sharing of intelligence information received from the interdiction of migrants on the seas”.
“If the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Department of Immigration interdict migrants who are trying to come into The Bahamas, we would ask them certain questions and collect certain information. That information is then shared with the United States, which has a lot of assets around to deal with it because they can move the assets and help to try and interdict others who are coming. That’s the kind of direction we’re headed in as we speak futuristically,” Mr. Mitchell said.
Mr. Mitchell also responded to questions concerning reports that the U.S National Security Agency was allegedly monitoring mobile phone calls in The Bahamas.
He said although the signing of this agreement has nothing to do with the “previously signed agreement” he claimed the NSA was acting on, there is a lawful authority in place that oversees phone call interdiction for drug smuggling and drug trafficking purposes.
“My understanding is that there are agreements about how you can interdict for the purposes of drug smuggling and trafficking, and all of those things, that there is a lawful authority which is in place with regard to that. The statement, as I understand it, confines going forward all actions to within that lawful authority without speaking to the past. That’s the best I can say,” Mr. Mitchell said.
“This particular letter of agreement does not have anything per say to do with that, but there is a Listening Devices Act in The Bahamas. That is the act which governs how you can monitor phone calls. It has been pronounced by the Privy Council to be a lawful and constitutional and the only thing we can say as an administrative arm of the government is that anything that is done by way of listening should be done in accordance with that act,” he added.