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Understanding T&T terrorism law

Published: 
Friday, January 22, 2016

Terrorism is a growing phenomenon worldwide and it may just hit home. There are over 100 “well-known” terrorist groups globally. Given the heavy international recruitment exercise of one, ISIS, currently, we may expect TT-ISIS trained terrorists to return home if they survive their tour of duty.

How do our laws deal with terrorism? The Anti-Terrorism Act (No. 26 of 2005 and amended in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014) aims to criminalise terrorism and its financing. It provides for the detection, prevention, prosecution, conviction and punishment of terrorist activities. It treats with the confiscation, forfeiture and seizure of terrorists' assets and of those involved in its financing. 

What exactly constitutes terrorist acts? Such acts include those related to loss of human life or serious bodily harm as well as damage to property. They also involve disruption to national security and public safety as well as to emergency services, computer or electronic systems, breaches to banking, communications, infrastructure, financial, public utilities, transportation essential infrastructure and systems.  

Terrorist acts also include the compelling of a government or an international organisation to do or refrain from doing any act as well as intimidating the public or sections of it in the advancing of political, ideological or religious causes. Do the events of July 1990 in T&T ring a bell?

A terrorist commits any of the above terrorist acts in any way possible or is an accomplice in terrorist acts or participates in financing terrorism as well as organises or directs others to engage in these activities. 

A terrorist organisation can be a legal entity or a group of terrorists that commit terrorist activities and finance terrorism.  

Punishments for some terrorist activities:

• A person gets 25 years imprisonment for participating in the commission of a terrorist act;

• When a terrorist act involves the commission of other crimes under another law, he gets that other punishment as well; 

• A person who in any way makes available financial or related services for committing a terrorist act gets 20 years imprisonment.

• A person who in any way makes available property or does so on behalf of another person or engages in any way with terrorist property that may be used in committing terrorist acts gets 20 years imprisonment. 

• A person who supports or solicits supports for commission of terrorist acts gets 20 years imprisonment.

• A person who harbours another person or hinders the apprehension of a person that may have committed or plans to commit terrorist acts shall get 20 years imprisonment.

• A person who recruits terrorists or plans to do so shall get 20 years imprisonment.

• A person who trains persons to execute terrorist acts or use explosives and lethal devices or in practicing military exercises to engage in terrorist acts shall get 25 years imprisonment.

• A person who promotes the commission of terrorist acts shall get 25 years imprisonment.

• A person who facilitates the use of vessels, aircrafts, premises and equipment for committing terrorist acts shall get 20 years imprisonment.

• A person who engages in explosives in public places with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury or destruction shall get imprisonment for the remainder of their natural life.

• A person who kidnaps an internationally protected person shall get imprisonment for the remainder of their natural life. 

• A person who engages in chemical, biological or nuclear weapons against person or property shall get imprisonment for the remainder of their natural life.

• A person who finances terrorism or attempts to do so shall get 25 years imprisonment and a fine of $5 million. If a legal entity does this, there is a fine of $25 million. The person in charge of this legal entity shall get 25 years imprisonment and a fine of $5 million. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) plays a critical role in this matter. 

The legislation is very strong on the regulations and procedures for dealing with the financing of  terrorism. 

Police officers at ranks above sergeant and inspector accordingly can apply to a judge ex parte to get Detention Orders to prevent the commission of a terrorist act, an Order to gather information from named persons for the purpose of investigating a terrorist offence, a Warrant to investigate the offence of financing of terrorism and a Monitoring Order directed at a financial institution, listed business or non-profit organisation to provide certain information. Again, the legislation is quite comprehensive in investigating terrorist activities and the financing of it.

The legislative framework seems to be in place to deal with terrorism in T&T. We can only hope that the personnel and agencies are ready for any challenge to our peace and civility. Carnival is upon us.

Terrorists like to strike in busy areas and periods. All should be on high alert for any suspicious activities by local, regional and international terrorists and/or terrorist organisations.  

Contact the Caribbean Institute for Security and Public Safety for a wide range of 2016 training programmes for organisations and individuals in law enforcement, corporate security, supervision and management, OSH/HSE, etc. Tel: 223-6999, mail to: info@caribbeansecurityinstitute.com