Gov’t moves to institutionalise intelligence gathering with new bill – Attorney General
Recognising the obscurity that has surrounded the National Intelligence and Security Agency for years, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, said the government intends to bring to light legislation that clearly outlines the functions and responsibilities of the entity.
Speaking on his weekly televised programme, ‘Issues in the News’ on Wednesday, the Attorney General stressed that the National Intelligence and Security Bill that was tabled in the National Assembly on Monday brings into statutory recognition an agency that has already existed for some 13 years.
“What this bill seeks to do is establish the agency by law to clearly set out what the agency’s powers are, who will constitute the agency, by what mechanism they will be appointed, and how the agency will be funded,” he said.
Highlighting that the agency is not a law enforcement body, the AG clarified that it will work in tandem with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) in intelligence gathering.
The agency had been performing the very functions outlined in the bill, but there was no governance structure or statutory framework.
Minister Nandlall said given the fact that the agency deals with issues of national security, as expected, there is some degree of confidentiality included in its processes.
“This bill seeks to bring a transparent legal structure into being and to establish an accountable framework in respect of the agency itself and those who will man and comprise the agency, and to say clearly how the agency will be funded, ” he noted.
The agency will also now be made subject to parliamentary oversight, as annual reports of its work will be laid in the National Assembly.
The National Intelligence and Security Bill establishes the National Intelligence and Security Agency as the body responsible for enhancing the state’s defence and security policy.
Outlining the functions of the agency, the bill provides that it will collect information ‘of national intelligence and security that will provide a basis for decision-making and preventive action and conducting analysis of the information’.
The functions also include providing intelligence and security advice to the president, cabinet members and other entities in the security sector. “This country requires an agency of this type on a firm legal footing. The direction in which we are going economically as a country, the growth of our economy, and the expansion of our fiscal sector, require an agency like this. As the economy grows, national security and the capability of the state to protect its citizens and assets within the state must proportionally improve,” the Attorney General said.