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Weekly Spotlight: 20 August 2023

1. Canadian Prime Minister Completes Final Appointment for National Security and Intelligence Committee

On 18 August, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of Saskatchewan Senator Marty Klyne to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, meaning that all seats on the committee have now been filled. The Committee, formed in 2017, was created to introduce greater parliamentary oversight of Canadian national security agencies, which supporters claim had been lacking in pre-existing parliamentary structures. Following the appointment of Senator Klyne, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that the committee “plays a critical role in ensuring the accountability and efficiency of our national security and intelligence community in keeping Canadians safe,” and that he was “confident the committee will contribute to better protecting Canadians, our country’s institutions, and our democracy.”

2. Jamaican Ministry of Labour Exposes Online Farm Work Scam

Reports indicate that Jamaica’s Ministry of Labour has recently identified a scam based on attracting individuals to apply for jobs within the Ministry’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker’s Program. Although in reality the Ministry of Labour is not yet recruiting for this scheme, WhatsApp messages have reportedly been sent to potential victims by fraudsters, guiding them towards a fictional “Mr Simms” for information regarding employment opportunities. Upon making contact with “Mr Simms”, victims were required to pay an application fee, which the legitimate Seasonal Agricultural Scheme does not require. The Ministry of Labour has strongly advised those who may have been financially deceived under this pretence to report the matter to the police immediately.

3. South Africa Records Increase in Kidnap and Ransom Cases

A 16 August report from Al Jazeera indicates that the number of kidnappings in South Africa has risen by as much as ten percent compared to 2022. Citing statistics issued by the South African Police Service (SAPS), a total of 3,641 cases were recorded between January and March 2023, the majority of which took place in the Gauteng Province. Furthermore, this figure is believed to be a conservative estimate, on account of victims not reporting certain cases to authorities for fear of being further targeted. Experts believe that the increase in kidnappings has been driven both by local gangs aiming to extort smaller ransom payments amidst mass youth unemployment, and by transnational crime syndicates aiming to exert larger-scale influence in new parts of the country.

4. Ten Arrested and $737 Million Seized in Singapore Money Laundering Raid

Singapore police arrested ten suspects from China, Turkey, Cambodia, Cyprus, and Vanuatu on suspicion of operating a money laundering ring on 15 August. In addition to conducting the arrests, authorities seized over USD $737 million worth of assets including properties, jewellery, vintage wine bottles, and luxury cars following simultaneous raids across the city. The group are suspected of laundering proceeds from criminal enterprises such as online scams and online gambling operations. David Chew, Director of Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department, reiterated Singapore’s “zero tolerance approach for the use of our country as a safe haven for criminals...or for the abuse of our banking facilities,” further warning that any suspects found guilty would be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of our laws.”

5. Australian Military Completes Exercise Highball

On 15 August, the Australian Defence Force concluded Exercise Highball in Lancelin, Western Australia, following a successful simulated strike against a maritime target with a long-range land-based rocket artillery. A combined Australian Joint Operations Command and United States Indo-Pacific Command initiative, the exercise used a range of air, land, space and maritime capabilities to test US-produced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) long-range models for future use by the Australian military. Air Vice-Marshal Michael Kitcher, Acting Chief of Joint Operations, reported that Exercise Highball demonstrated how the operational integration of new strike assets was being urgently developed and expanded upon, commenting that “Highball has shown the Australian Defence Force and our US partners how we can employ new capabilities like HIMARS at an operational level.”


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