ATTORNEYS have been reminded by National Security Minister Stuart Young of the legal channels through which they can speak to incarcerated clients.
"If a prisoner wants to communicate with his family, friends or lawyers, we have sufficient landlines in there (prisons) to do that.
"We have spaces built which the Minister of National Security will call a designated area where you (lawyers) come in and meet clients," said Young.
Young was responding to critics of the Interception of Communication (Amendment) Bill 2020 and its potential effect on attorney-client privilege.
He was speaking at a Trinidad Union Club luncheon, last week, at the Kapok Hotel, Port of Spain.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, on February 7, said the proposed amendments would give police new powers to wire-tap phone calls.
She warned that this posed a risk to established attorney-client while also warning journalists and their sources.
However, Young, in response, said, "One of the first hurdles thrown up to the amendment was that prisoners will be prevented from lawyer-client privilege.
"What you have are the naysayers in society and I dare say those who benefit from crime always making the most noise," he told the guests at the luncheon.
He added, ""What we are trying to do now is because there are persons incarnated who are communicating with people on the outside via the use of cellphones, tablets and other technology methods."
The minister said the problem was not limited to TT alone, as the United States and other countries are also struggling with it.
He said while other countries have the means by which authorities can intercept conversations between those on the inside and outside of prisons, those means are not available in TT.
This, he said, created a gap in evidence collection for prosecution purposes.
"I ask the question: 'Which law abiding attorney would want to be having conversations with his or her client on a contraband item?'
"To have a cellphone in prison is contraband so immediately the light starts to shine upon that little area. Why would an attorney be having a conversation with a prisoner."
Young said he has called-out some attorneys for communicating with incarcerated clients to "carry out continuation of their criminal empires."
He reminded them that there were systems in place in TT for legal communications between attorneys and their clients in prison.
"Lawyers can meet with prisoners in sanctuary areas and carry out attorney-client privilege conversations.
"But we can no longer tolerate the free flow of uninterrupted telephone conversations between people on the inside of prison walls and those on the outside. This is not limited by any means to lawyers who will be a small fraction."