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Trinidad: Al-Rawi justifies wire-tapping bill

A new wire-tapping law will insert safeguards into three laws which now let the police access details of citizens phone records, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi told Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. The Interception of Communication (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed by the Senate on Tuesday, with the Opposition voting against and one Independent senator abstaining, and it now heads to the Lower House. The bill says the police must apply for a court order before seeking to access stored data from a telecommunication service provider, and lets them wire tap unauthorised phone-calls by prison inmates.

The AG said the bill allows wire-tapping of inmates who are not in an area designated for them to call their attorneys.

“You bug the prisons so a prison is a prison is a prison. Quite shockingly, the UNC says you need to protect the prisoners rights.”

Al-Rawi said the bill adds constitutional protection into the parent act for the media and others that did not exist before.

“Right now section 6(2)(b) of the Interception of Communication Act, passed in 2010, allows everybody to be intercepted for national security purposes, media included.”

He said that in 2010, the law allowed wire taps of the media. “We have said in the bill that if you want a court to consider any evidence the court must give permission.

“We have added very important safeguards to ensure what the court must ensure: fairness of trial, you were not entrapped, it is not an undue position.”

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