ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi said legislation is coming where there will be a unique identification number for all citizens’ biodata (biographical data).
He was contributing to debate on The Miscellaneous Provisions (Law Enforcement Officers) (Amendment) Bill in the Senate on Wednesday.
He said the police under law are allowed to take fingerprints and photographs in respect of deportees and people at ports of entry. He reported there was an amendment in the bill to improve the law by adding that it is an offence to assault, obstruct or resist an officer in the exercise of his duties or a person assisting an officer.
“And we do that specifically because there are persons at ports of entry or persons who are assisting police officers in the course of their duty and we’ve sought to manage the proportionality in the use of force and in the compellability of these circumstances.”
He said TT is going to come to the point where, like the rest of the world, people must mandatorily give their fingerprints. “I can tell you now that I am working on a specific piece of law which is a unique identification number for every citizen of TT where your biodata would be captured specifically, so like the US where you have a social security services number, we can therefore eliminate fraud and other ills in society. And that legislation ought to come at you very shortly.”
Al-Rawi said Clause 7 of The Miscellaneous Provisions (Law Enforcement Officers) (Amendment) Bill seeks to have amendments to the Customs Act. He explained the act is a pre-1962 law and added that people may not be aware that customs officers have greater power than police in certain circumstances.
“In the power of forfeiture, the power of immediate and serious action–customs officers rank number one.”
He said it was no secret that the contribution from the customs authority is a large part of the country’s GDP.
“And we have to take our customs laws seriously.”
He explained the bill has an amplification for obstruction of customs officers offences from a fine of $1,500 to summary conviction and exposure to $250,000 fine, imprisonment for ten years and conviction on indictment to a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for 15 years. He said this will feed into the TT Revenue Authority (TTRA) structure; the proposed TTRA seeks to replace the Board of Inland Revenue and the Customs and Excise Division.
“You can’t have inadequate offences and penalties if you’re gonna take your revenue seriously.” He added: “If everybody in this country pays their fair share on the lower limb, more people paying smaller amounts consistently and fairly, our country has the opportunity to be one of the most profitable, spectacular and decent countries in the world to live in. After all, I’m certain God is a Trini.”