Attorney General Faris Al Rawi

(flashback)Attorney General Faris Al Rawi, left, fields questions from the media during yesterday’s press conference at his Richmond Street office in Port of Spain. At right is Permanent Secretary (PS) to the PM Maurice Suite.

A NEW spy bill is coming.

Government will be bringing “a very powerful bill” to amend the Interception of Communications Act to treat with advances in technology.

So said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi as he piloted the Miscellaneous Amendment (Criminal Law, Prisons Act, Police Service Act, Immigration Act, Fire Services Act and Customs Act) in the Senate yesterday.

“We are ensuring that a jail is a jail...and you are not to be exposing Trinidad and Tobago to the running of a criminal enterprise whilst you are incarcerated, be it under remand conditions and under conviction,” he said.

Stating that the bill addresses the issue of transmitting photographs, sound recording and electronic communications within the prison, the AG said: “You would be surprised to know we have found 4G, LTE technology, communications on voice over Internet protocol (VOIP). (The criminals) are not communicating on telephones subject to interception, they are communicating on the Internet and therefore depending upon technology for interception. There is a significant difficulty (intercepting),” he said.

Mandatory fingerprinting

The Attorney General also said Trinidad and Tobago would come to the point where like the rest of the world people must mandatorily give their fingerprints.

“I can tell you now I am working on a specific piece of law, which is a unique identification number for every citizen of T&T where your bio-data would be captured so that like the United States where you have a social security services number we can therefore eliminate fraud and other ills in our society and that legislation ought to come at you very shortly,” he said. “That harmonises with our digitisation platform, our eyes everywhere platform and with the work we are doing in our Special Select Committee on the Evidence bill,”, he said.

No to framing law

The Attorney General said the Prime Minister instructed him to look at a framing law, a law to treat with when people are framed unlawfully and wrongfully, to establish an offence and charge to treat with this matter.

He said he had discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as his Queen’s Counsel from the United Kingdom, Mr Jenkins.

“We explored the issue in great detail and the DPP urged me not to introduce a statutory offence but instead to rely on the common law fixtures which the DPP has advised strongly ought to prevail- that is misbehaviour in public office, perverting or defeating the course of justice, and also relying upon where someone causes wasteful employment of the police.”

He said he wanted to assure senators that he took the undertaking given to them during the debate on the Bail Amendment bill to consider this issue seriously, but the DPP strongly advised against it.

All manner of things inside the prisons

The Attorney General said the situation had changed from when a prison officer was referred to as a “turnkey” since prison officers had been murdered and their family members brought under threat.

But there was also an active trade of trafficking in the prison.

“Flat screen TVs, grenades, bullets, cigarettes, mobile devices, electronic devices were all found in the prison,” he said, adding that criminal enterprise operates effectively in the prison.

He said the Prison Officers Association agreed that heavy criminal offences should be put in for trafficking and breach of fiduciary duty, but also that Government should make sure that law enforcement officers are protected by way of the law from retaliation, threats to their property and families.

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