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Immigration needs to complement national security strategy (Part 1)
Be very cautious of taking the US lightly. Before I delve into the important and increasingly contentious issue of immigration in relation to national and international security, I seriously urge the T&T government to reconsider our mutual legal assistance (MLAT) and extradition treaties with the United States. This has become necessary as the US continues to be our most important economic and security ally in the region, with economic and other strategic interests.
Significantly, as per Messieurs Galbaransingh and Ferguson, the US has already twice outlined their serious concerns on this nationally-debated matter, no doubt recognising the gravity of the situation. As is well known, the US also prefers the bilateral approach for extradition, as this is based on reciprocity, comity and respect for differences in other jurisdictions.
It is important to underscore that the objective behind this extradition process is to facilitate and strengthen international co-operation in the fight against transnational organised crimes, and strengthening of domestic law enforcement. In the absence of effective extradition arrangements, the US and its allied foreign law enforcement and intelligence agencies could use extrajudicial and irregular forms of extradition.
The cases of former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega should be lessons to consider.
During the course of my first Master’s degree in Intelligence and National Security Studies from California State University, San Bernadino, our professors, former US ambassadors, in a course captioned International Security and Defense Strategy, showed how US Intelligence was so advanced, the precise location of the stockpiling of former Soviet Union nuclear warheads plants and operations could be pinpointed.
As a matter of fact, the US if it wanted to, could have unleashed a massive retaliatory response with maximum accuracy, including a triad of air-launched cruise missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles and sea launched or submarine based cruise missiles, on the former Soviet Union.
Today, while threats to national security are different from the Cold War era, US intelligence and technology is far superior and that country may be at the pinnacle of intelligence in the international security environment. Therefore, let us critically consider the adverse and unintended consequences of this unsettled matter of extradition and criminal justice between T&T and the US.
Look at how quickly justice was dispensed in the cases of Allen Stanford, Martha Stewart and Bernie Madoff, as well as our own, Kareem Ibrahim.
The law of extradition, a branch of international criminal law, is based on the assumption that the requesting State is acting in good faith and that Messrs Galbaransingh and Ferguson will receive a fair trial in the Miami courts. The charges are well-known and there may also exist, according to reliable evidence, affiliation with the Vargas Colombian drug cartel.
Once our local courts were satisfied that there was a legal basis for extradition, Messrs Galbaransingh and Ferguson should be committed to the extradition process to the US. The ultimate decision to extradite may be within the purview of executive discretion.
To facilitate international co-operation in the fight against transnational crimes, municipal courts in several jurisdictions have generally adopted a liberal interpretation of extradition treaties. A good example can be found in the case of R v Governor of Ashford, ex parte Postlethwaite, “where for example the House of Lords considered that extradition legislation ought to be interpreted generously in order to facilitate extradition.”
The US must have been able to produce sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case. Importantly, on the issue of double criminality, the alleged conduct of Messrs Galbaransingh and Ferguson must have the ingredients of a crime in the requested and requesting states to effect the extradition process. What is our understanding of justice?
As one of the vital cogs in the machinery of national security, the Immigration Department carries out several functions with respect to locals and foreigners, as well as national security prerogatives. Such functions include issuance of passports, issuance of visas, determining the admissibility of visitors, tourists, students, temporary workers, processing of permanent residence, citizenship, issuing of ministers’ permit, attracting investors and business entrepreneurs to our shores, as well as dealing with extensions and issues of removal and deportation.
These specialised functions, done in the interest of national security, require an overhaul in management, thinking, policy planning, recruitment, training and programmes, a transparent promotions process, security vetting and polygraph examination.
The question is, to what extent has the Immigration Department made serious and meaningful adjustments to fulfill its objectives in line with the development of our economy, as well as complementing our national, regional and international security mandate?
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