Fixin’ T&T has raised questions about the potential of political influence on other issues related to the Strategic Services (Amendment) Bill 2016.
The following is the full release from Fixin’ T&T:
Dear Mr Al Rawi,
FIXIN’ T&T understands the need for the interception of communication in the ongoing fight against crime.
We support the expansion of the scope afforded to the Strategic Services agency (SSA) through the Strategic Services (Amendment) Bill 2016 and fully appreciate the fact that it is independent of and trumped by the Interception of Communications Act (IOCA).
That said, we write seeking clarification/reassurance on some concerns—fears even—that we have regarding the IOCA itself:
1. Is the SSA Director appointed by the political directorate? If yes, why and how can we trust that he/she will not be influenced by or beholden to the Government or any Minister?
2. Can the SSA Director be appointed by a Joint Select Committee or a body similar to that of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission or the Police Service Commission?
3. It is our understanding that the persons that can authorize interception of communication are the Commissioner of Police (CoP), the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) and the Director of the SSA. Can these persons issue such directives in the absence of a court order?
4. If yes to question 3, are there clearly defined parameters within which such directives can be issued? Are there systems in place to guarantee or even guard against the breaching of these parameters?
5. Does the interception of communication, in the absence of a court order, have to be reported to and subsequently reviewed by any independent body?
6. Is there an audit trail once communication is intercepted? If yes, how is it secured and by whom?
7. How can the public trust that there will be no abuse or misuse of information gathered thru the interception of communication?
8. Are proper and efficient processes in place to effectively dispose of information that will not be used?
You Sir, with all that is being unearthed, will appreciate our apprehension about trusting any political directorate; particularly pursuant to the debacle that was May 24, 2010 to September 7, 2015.
We remind you of the dictatorial and undemocratic ‘Soldier Bill’ in which attempts were made to afford then Minister of National Security Jack Warner dangerous latitude by virtue of his authority over the CDS.
While we accept your position that your statements regarding the privacy of the people were misunderstood, surely you will agree that we the people must jealously guard same.
We anxiously look forward to your response.