The Judiciary of T&T is calling for the destruction of all illegally obtained material gathered by the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA). The judiciary broke its silence on the issue yesterday, six days after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's revelation in Parliament of illegal wiretapping by the agency of phone and e-mails of prominent citizens. The judiciary said in a statement: "We would also urge the executive to take steps to ensure the destruction of all illegally obtained material under the supervision of an independent third party."
Also condemning the SIA's wiretapping activities yesterday was the Law Association, which described it as an attack on the independence of the judiciary. "We note with further dismay that it was stated that judges were among those being spied upon. This constitutes an attack on the independence of the judiciary," stated Law Association president Martin Daly, SC, in a release yesterday. The release from the judiciary added: "In the case of the judiciary, the inevitable consequence would be an undermining of its independence and the proper administration of justice."
The judiciary noted while judges were subject to vetting from lawfully constituted agencies, there should be no illegal intrusions. "What cannot be tolerated is any arbitrary intrusion into anyone's private affairs with no legal or legislative foundation," it said. The judiciary said based on the sweep of the SIA, "one is driven to the conclusion that the only rational explanation for some of the wiretapping is that it was conducted with the hope of acquiring negative personal information that might be used as leverage."
Daly, meantime, said the alleged "spying" constituted a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens and was a direct attack on the Constitution. He said the surveillance was illegal as the SIA had no legal authority. He noted that the Bill, which would be placed before Parliament today to make such phone surveillance legal, had serious deficiencies. Among them, he said, was a provision which would allow surveillance to be carried out "at the behest" of the minister. Daly said that would be to the detriment of law-abiding citizens.