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New measures to combat violent extremism—Rowley

Published: 
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Government has approved a counter-terrorism policy and strategy including plans for countering violent extremism, Prime Minister Keith Rowley says.

Rowley, head of T&T’s National Security Council, revealed this at Sunday’s PNM convention at the Queen’s Park Savannah, in Port-of-Spain.

T&T was recently the focus of certain recent UK media reports on potential terrorist threats to the region following the possible return of nationals from the Middle East who joined the foreign terrorist fighters at the Islamic State.

Rowley, putting the matter in the context of T&T’s overall crime situation, said: “For the last two decades this country has been challenged by the criminal elements, both local and international. We don’t make guns and ammunition here nor do we produce cocaine or heroin yet the illegal business of these items have chronically infected our society to the point where whole communities are under siege and the entire nation is on the lookout for the next event or outrage.”

“Many youths have fallen prey to gang culture and the use of violence in the quest for easy money or settling scores threatens the peace,” he said. “Additionally, a very small minority of our citizens has answered the call to international religious terrorism and a few remain students of this dangerous doctrine, posing a greater strain on our security services and our national budget. We’ve only just completed a comprehensive National Security Policy and Strategy Implementation Plan,” he added.

“Only recently The National Security Council approved the Counter-Terrorism Policy and Strategy. In developing our plan of action for Countering Violent Extremism we’ve established partnerships with US, UK and international agencies,” he said.

He said the US-assisted Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) will be implemented at Piarco Airport before year’s end, at Tobago’s airport and the Cedros port.

“This system gives us the ability to more effectively track the movement of persons across our borders,” Rowley said. Police also established Cold Case Team and recently, a Computer Security Incident Response Team.

He added: “The Deosaran Committee has completed its Manpower Audit of the TTPS and has submitted a comprehensive report which was received by the Cabinet and is on its way to Parliament for public examination by the Joint Select Committee of the Parliament.”

After last Sunday’s convention Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said amendments to the anti-terrorism law will be dealt with in Parliament right after debate concludes on anti-crime and judicial legislation which are needed for to meet Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) terms. This legislation will be debated on Friday after Al Rawi returns from a CFATF conference in Guyana which began yesterday.