[UPDATE] AG: Hit called from prison

Faris Al-Rawi  -
Faris Al-Rawi -

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi revealed to the Senate on Tuesday that an assassination was ordered from a prison earlier that morning.

He was piloting the Interception of Communication (Amendment) Bill.

"Murder is committed in TT as a result of prisoners using telephones and calling assassination plots and actual assassinations against citizens in TT even as recently as this morning in TT."

Al-Rawi did not provide any further details on the incident.

He reported that national security forces such as the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) and the Commissioner of Police have "actionable information" that phones are being used in the prisons and assassinations are being carried out at the behest of prisons.

But, he said, "You can do nothing about it, because you do not have the privilege of using that as warranted evidence in a court of law, because you have intercepted it in circumstances where the evidence is not admissible in law."

He said the law included interception of communication in prisons of every phone in a prison or prison vehicle, excluding conversations under legal professional privilege (talking to an attorney). He explained the bill is meant to improve the constitutionality of the law, continue to develop it and introduce heavy anti-crime measures.

He said the bill was one of the most critically important ever brought to Parliament, as the scourge of crime has been fought for decades. Al-Rawi reported there had been consultation on the bill with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), special QC to the DPP Edward Jenkins, the prison service, the TT Defence Force, National Security Ministry, judiciary, SSA, the police and the Law Reform Commission, and all gave active feedback. He said the Law Association was written to on many occasions but sent no comments.

He said the DPP recommended certain improvements which were in the bill, and the prison service expressed the view in a letter that: "The importance of this bill cannot be understated as a critical tool in the fight against rising criminality in our nation today."

Al-Rawi said the current law is not specific enough to deal with stored data like text messages or traffic data, which is used for triangulation and is especially helpful with kidnappings. He said this was now to be inserted into the law.

He pointed out that under the bill a warrant can be obtained for stored communication and data, and this applied in other jurisdictions to which TT extradites criminals.

"And it is obscene to not allow the intercept communication also to be the subject of proceedings in another jurisdiction."

He also reported that for the first time since 1995, regulations have been laid for the SSA.

Al-Rawi said the bill included a provision on tipping off, provision which is a reality in TT, and has to be criminalised. He noted it was criminalised heavily in the Miscellaneous Provisions (Law Enforcement Officers) Act and was being done in this bill as well.

"Because we are aware that members of the protective services, unfortunately, find themselves in the engaging of tipping-off."

He announced a law was being drafted to put in mandatory provisions for lie detection across the protective services and in certain aspects of national security.

He noted the bill required a three-fifths majority, as it infringed on enshrined constitutional rights, namely the right to private life, rights against self-incrimination, and rights involved under a fair trial and due process. Al-Rawi said he noted the commentary of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar at a recent media conference that the Opposition would not support the bill, but he hoped that was not the position of the opposition bench.

"I ask honourable members to reject what I heard in the public domain coming from the Leader of the Opposition. I ask honourable members to drape themselves in the national flag of TT today – red, white and black – only in a national colour, so that we can right the scales of justice in TT."

This story was originally published with the title "AG: 'Hit called from prison this morning'" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi revealed to the Senate on Tuesday that an assassination was ordered from a prison earlier that morning.

He was piloting the Interception of Communication (Amendment) Bill.

"Murder is committed in TT as a result of prisoners using telephones and calling assassination plots and actual assassinations against citizens in TT, even as recently as this morning."

He reported that national security forces such as the Strategic Services Agency and the Commissioner of Police have "actionable information" that phones are being used in the prisons and assassinations are being carried out at the behest of prisoners.

However, he said, "You can do nothing about it because you do not have the privilege of using that as warranted evidence in a court of law because you have intercepted it in circumstances where the evidence is not admissible in law."

He said the law included interception of communication in prisons. He explained the bill is meant to improve the constitutionality of the law, continue to develop it and introduce heavy anti-crime measures.

He said the bill was one of the most critically important ever brought to Parliament, as the scourge of crime has been fought for decades.

He noted the bill required a three-fifths majority as it infringed on enshrined constitutional rights, namely the right to private life, rights against self-incrimination, and rights involved under a fair trial and due process.

Al-Rawi said he noted the comment of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar at a recent media conference that the Opposition would not support the bill, but he hoped that was not the position of the opposition bench.

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"[UPDATE] AG: Hit called from prison"

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