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Fixin’ T&T questions Faris on potential for political influence in SSA bill

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:

Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

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?

Photo: Spy games.
Photo: Spy games.

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.

Photo: PNM chairman and Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Franklin Khan (right) and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. (Copyright Power 102FM)
Photo: PNM chairman and Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Franklin Khan (right) and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
(Copyright Power 102FM)

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.

Sincerely,

Kirk Waithe

AboutFixin TT

Fixin TT
Fixin T&T's mission is the realization of good governance to achieve healthy, holistic, and fulfilling lifestyles for all citizens through the study, promotion, and furtherance of strong democratic institutions; sound infrastructure; integrity in public and corporate affairs; and a culture of respect by all for the laws and regulations of the country to create a safe, secure, efficient and productive Trinidad & Tobago.

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8 comments

  1. Did Faris Al Rawi create a defence for those charged with the murder of Dana Seetahal? Did he state that the SSA was involved in the evidence gathering that led to persons being charged for her murder?

    If a body acts illegally to get evidence, that evidence is sometimes considered unusable, and it is not allowed. If the SSA acted outside of its remit (which is getting info on drug trafficking) by investigating a murder, it may have acted illegally (contrary to the SSA Act) and as such the evidence garnered may be ‘tainted’ and thrown out. Unless, someone is saying that the the murder was in some way tied to drug trafficking, which the SSA will have to prove.

    The defence may or may not be used successfully, but it is another layer that can be used which may prolonge the already lengthy process.

    Is the AG now going to amend his comments similar to what he did when he wrongfully said that there is no right to privacy, then ‘backtracked’ and said there is no absolute right to privacy?

  2. One point in a post dated 10th May 2012. More than a year after the debacle occurred on 14th January 2011. Kirk is an opportunist who thrives on attention. If he was serious about this as he was about the Marlene issue we would’ve been hearing his mouth continuously. But he was very quiet

    • so how you expect d man to get his Benz rented eh?

    • To be fair to Kirk, he has consistently been speaking out and took stands outside of the Parliament every month. One man cannot query everything and must pick and choose. He has consistently been speaking for procurement election financing legislation. Maybe we shoucl join with him to further raise awareness. Also, all issues cannot be raised at the same time otherwise they get ignored.

    • You really think Kirk pursuing Procurement Legislation because he cares about transparency? This is the same man who got the rental contract from HDC without a tender process!

  3. Most bills that are passed have has some degree of political influence Kirk need to wake up and stop being selective in his cat fights

  4. For the second point Peter, I am 99.9 percent certain that Kirk Waithe had a problem with Reshmi along with most of the country.
    You just don’t remember.

  5. The SSA Director was always appointed by the Government of the day. How come only now it’s an issue for Kirk Waithe? Secondly, how come he didn’t have an issue with or question when Reshmi Ramnarine was appointed as Director as a promotion from a Junior Clerk?