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Acting CoP: New unit to combat terrorism

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, second from right, with other members of the Police Service at yesterday’s Joint Select Committee meeting. PICTURE OFFICE OF THE PARLIAMENT

Investigation of terrorism is one of the most difficult types of probes confronting the T&T Police Service (TTPS) right now, acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said yesterday.

Williams was among TTPS officials appearing before a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee examining amendments to the anti-terrorism law.

Williams said the police get “licks” all the time on issues. But he said a new police unit, focussing on terrorism, is being developed and trained “as we speak.”

Among TTPS recommendations for the proposed law, acting Inspector Kazim Ali, of the Legal Unit, said the amendments must be more specific as the proposed bill was very wide. He said all references to “terrorist act” must be concise and comprehensive or matters could go awry in court.

Ali recommended a special designation of “offensive weapons” - not just “weapons”- and that this include fertilisers, nails and other home-made apparatus as other countries have in their anti-terrorism laws.

Acting ASP Kerwin Francis, of the Organised Crime and Intelligence Unit, recommended the bill be strong enough for a “stand-alone offence” to allow police to arrest someone - even if lacking evidence - on the basis that possessions they have, show they were about to instigate a terrorist act.

If a person claimed they had fertiliser, for instance, for gardening, police would then use a detailed comprehensive system to track if this is true via purchases and other patterns and establishing agricultural sector bona fides.

Francis recommended a penalty if people fail to conform to a proposed amendment that they notify the National Security Ministry when travelling to geographical areas which will be restricted by the state.

Francis suggested police be empowered to ask a judge -based on credible evidence- to prevent people from leaving T&T to go to restricted zones especially if they are subject to legal proceedings.


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