Major Changes to Wiretap Bill Passed in Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar noted that, although the government had the required constitutional majority to approve the Bill on its own, it was too important a matter to be approved without the support of the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) led by Dr Keith Rowley.

The Bill would allow for continuous monitoring of hot spots, international drug trafficking, gang leaders, terrorism, sedition and kidnapping.

According to a report out of Trinidad, unauthorised interception of communications will carry a $500,000 fine plus a seven-year jail term, said Opposition Chief Whip Merlene Mc Donald.

Bipartisan chairman of the Informal Parliamentary Committee, Roodal Moonilal, said Friday 26th November was “an historical day” in Trinidad and Tobago’s Parliament. Moonilal is also the Minister of Housing and the Environment.

He was referring to the move by all 35 government and opposition MPs present in the House former prime minister Patrick Manning was noticeably absent — who voted with one voice to approve the controversial Bill.

The legislation sought to strengthen the right balance between the enshrined fundamental rights and the need to fight crime and protect national security. Landmark legislation that was recommended a decade ago was passed within six months of the People’s Partnership administration.

Moonilall also congratulated the opposition for their contribution and support on this matter.

Among the changes are that the Minister of National Security does not authorise the warrant to intercept. It is done with the knowledge and at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police, Chief of Defence Staff, and Director of the Strategic Services, The Minister of National Security is kept informed of application for a warrant, but also does not veto the application.

 

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