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Trinidad and Tobago

AG: Prisoners have high-speed internet access

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi makes his contribution during Senate which was held at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain on Wednesday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi makes his contribution during Senate which was held at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain on Wednesday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi said legislative amendments are coming to address the issue of prioners using high-speed internet connections to communicate.

He was contributing to debate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Law Enforcement Officers) (Amendment) Bill in the Senate on Wednesday.

"You would be surprised to know that in the prisons we have found 4G technology, LTE (Long Term Evolution, a networking standard developed to provide increased speed and efficiency for mobile broadband) technology, communications on voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP).

"In other words, then, they are not communicating on telephones subject to interception. They're communicating on the internet and therefore, depending on the technology for interception, there is a significant difficulty which is faced there."

Al-Rawi reported that he will be bringing a "very powerful bill" to amend the Interception of Communications Act to treat with the advances in technology, which will be companion legislation to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Law Enforcement Officers) (Amendment) Bill.

"We are ensuring that a jail is a jail. When you are there you are in jail. You are not to be exposing TT to the running of criminal enterprise whilst you are incarcerated, be it under remand condition or be it under conviction."

Al-Rawi said he has seen the supervision aids at the prisons "at arm's-length distance," and flat-screen televisions, grenades, bullets, cigarettes, mobile devices and electronic devices have all been found in the prisons.

"That says that there is a problem. Because you have gone from a situation of prisons being a place where you ought to be confined and put away from life to a place where criminal enterprise operates, and does so actively."

He said the definition of prohibited articles in the legislation has effectively captured everything in the prisons, including: dangerous drugs, explosives, firearms, ammunition, weapons, mobile telephones, cameras, sound recording devices and electronic devices. He added the legislation will provide the opportunity to tackle the criminal enterprise there.

Al-Rawi said Government was on the cusp of doing repairs at the Remand Yard, Maximum Security Prison and "other positions." He said there have already been improvements at the child rehabilitation centres, which were previously the youth training centres.

He also said a probation law has been drafted and will go before Cabinet shortly.

The Prison Officers Association agreed this type of behaviour should be stamped out, the law needed to be improved, he said. While there are heavy penalties for trafficking, possession and breach of fiduciary duty by law-enforcement officers, he said, the Government should ensure these officers are protected by law against retaliation and threats to members of their family, property, intimidation and harassment.

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