Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi confirmed yesterday that his family had received a threat assessment and instruction from the army after he received several deaths threats since he assumed office last year.
He made the comment during a hastily called news conference outside Parliament, as he responded to suggestion in the House of Representatives earlier by Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal that a Cabinet minister's children had been photographed with guns.
While he described Moonilal as reprehensible for making the allegations, he confirmed that since he assumed office in September 2015 he was the subject of countless death threats. He said as a consequence, a threat assessment "on the AG and his family was conducted by the security agencies in T&T."
He said after the treat assessment was conducted, "the security agencies indicated that it was imperative that international protocols for training how (when) people are exposed to threats had to be delivered by the security forces to me and to my family."
He said: "Upon the instructions of the army in particular, my family was taken up to the Cumuto base where instructions (about) threats to our persons were provided."
Al-Rawi said the protocols were "very carefully directed under the supervision of the army at all points in time. They went through what threats look like, what panic can cause in the middle of a threat against your life, how aggressors behave, how the personal security in these situations behave and what is to be expected."
He said both himself and Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Stuart Young, were the recipients of "umpteen death threats" since assuming office, adding Young also received similar threat assessments with him at one point.
However, Al-Rawi said he wanted to say categorically that "for someone such as Roodal Moonilal, who acted as prime minister of T&T, to raise the issue of children in a budget debate I find most reprehensible."
"This was a simple matter of security, making sure that their targets of protection are organised and informed on their international protocols," he said, adding that he was "very comfortable that my position is clear and I hold Dr Moonilal in serious contempt of morality."
The AG said for the Opposition MP "to drag (my) family members and particularly teenaged children into a conversation for political mileage is noting short of the lowest, most base form of engagement in the politics of T&T."
He insisted the threat assessment against him was "significant" and receives constant attention by the security authorities. He said for security reasons he was not prepared to say more on the matter, but admitted that his family benefitted from international protocols on threat assessment. He confirmed that "it was under the direct care and supervision of the special forces and the army itself and it was entirely in their camp."
Within hours of Moonilal making the claims, photos of two teenagers, a boy and girl, training with high-tech weapons, surfaced online. Asked if he was not concerned that photos of his children could be online, Al-Rawi said photos could be altered with the technology available today. He said he was concerned about the source of the pictures.
...as Moonilal talks of Minister's relatives with guns in online photos
Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal yesterday produced photographs of children who he claimed have a striking resemblance to senior Government officials posing with UMP 9mm guns which the T&T Defence Force uses.
Outraged by the photographs, Moonilal said he intended to send to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi copies of the pictures for their perusal and to take action since it was "wrong."
He said we cannot build a society when we encourage children to use guns as "if it was a game and toy," stating that there were Government members who "inadvertently, by their utterance, was encouraging crime."
Moonilal said the photographs could be viewed on a Facebook page named "Kick out the PNM."
He made the disclosure while delivering his contribution in the budget debate yesterday, which created an uproar in the House of Representatives.
"It was shocking for me to receive photographs of young children in this country with high- powered weapons training somewhere. I am told the UMP 9mm calibre. It is frightening using these weapons that have been issued ... are common to the Defence Force of Trinidad and Tobago," Moonilal said.
He said what was even more frightening was "I am told that these children bear a striking resemblance to a senior Cabinet minister."
Government Leader of the House, Camille Robinson-Regis, objected to Moonilal's statement, citing Standing Order 48 (6) by imputing "improper motives regarding children of Cabinet ministers."
House Speaker Brigid Annisette-George told Moonilal to withdraw his statement, which he did.
Moonilal then rephrased his statement, stating that "there are children with a striking resemblance to senior Government officials" posing with the guns.
He said the children took the photographs with the guns as a way to gallery.