Updated: Jul 24, 2020
1. The Jamaican Police and Civil Defence Forces have been given new powers to intercept communications.
On the 14th of July, the Jamaican Parliament passed legislation to expand the Interception of Communications Act in order to allow the Jamaican Constabulary Force and the Civil Defence Force to intercept real time information and communications in critical situations. The legislation authorises the interception of communications of a specific person named in a warrant and enables the authorising officers to request technical information from telecommunications service providers. Such powers, currently only available to the National Security Minister, will be expanded to several major crimes bodies, including the Narcotics and Organised Crime units. It was acknowledged by both the Government and Opposition that although there remain questions over privacy, the powers should improve the fight against organised crime.
2. Commonwealth Heads of Government issue a joint statement on COVID-19.
Through the Commonwealth Secretariat the Commonwealth Heads of Government issued a joint statement committing "to working transparently and constructively within the Commonwealth family and with our international partners to address COVID-19 and its impacts; build resilience, particularly for developing economies and the most vulnerable countries; and ensure no one is left behind." The statement continued to discuss 'upholding fundamental principles'; 'contributing to the global health response'; 'safeguarding our future prosperity'; 'addressing international trade disruptions'; 'protecting the future of small and vulnerable states'; and 'global cooperation and multilateralism'.
Read the full statement here: https://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/inline/Commonwealth%20Statement%20on%20COVID-19%20FINAL%20VERSION.pdf
3. A new armed group with unclear motivations is on the rise in Nigeria
A new group of armed fighters are contributing to rising violence in Nigeria, separate to the ongoing attacks carried out by Boko Haram. Known by locals as the “Motorcycle Bandits” the group has been responsible for at least 300 deaths since March, carrying out several attacks in the Kaduna and Sokoto regions. It also appears that they have been engaging in financially motivated kidnapping. Little is known about this group, but they are believed to be formed of groups of aggrieved cattle herders that emerged during clashes over fertile land, mixed with elements of the country’s organised crime groups. The armed fighters appear to be of Fulani origin, one of West Africa’s largest ethnic groups, who are predominantly Islamic. Early analysis points that they do not appear to be religiously sectarian in intent, but rather a financially and ethnically motivated group.
4. It has emerged that eight contractors working on Gas projects in Northern Mozambique were killed by insurgents in late June.
It has come to light that eight construction workers working on a multi-billion-dollar gas project in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province were killed by insurgents. Fenix Constructions, a company sub-contracted by French oil giant Total, said that five men dressed in uniforms similar to those worn by the Mozambican army attacked a transport vehicle, killing eight of the fourteen occupants, three others survived and three are still missing. Total has said it will continue with the $23 Billion gas project in the region despite the region’s ongoing insurgency.
5. India is set to invite Australia to the Malabar naval exercises.
India plans to invite Australia to join the annual Malabar naval exercises. Originally a bilateral exercise conducted between the United States and India starting in 1992, Japan became an official participant in 2015. During the exercises, the navies practice joint manoeuvres aimed to increase interoperability between different forces. New Delhi are set to invite Australia, who have participated in the past, to become an official member of the arrangement next week. A spokesmen for Australia’s defense department said that whilst they have not yet received a formal invitation to join the exercise, “Australia sees value in participating in quadrilateral defense activities in order to increase interoperability and advance our collective interests in a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”
These four countries have previously been referred to as the “Quad” with some commentators viewing them as an alliance of major democracies in the Pacific acting as a counterbalance to Chinese power. India and Australia have both previously downplayed the significance of the Quad as a strategic arrangement, instead emphasising the routine nature of military exercises among friendly nations who share a geo-political space such as the Indo-Pacific.