“But the debate is still ongoing with respect to privacy per se,” the Attorney General said.
Al-Rawi said he had information that the Opposition had written Independent Senators warning them about the effects of the proposed amendments.
“I understand the Opposition has written to all Independent senators...I say I understand, I could be wrong,” the Attorney General said. “I understand the Opposition has written to members of the diplomatic and consular corp. I could be wrong. This is the information that has come to me.” Al-Rawi said the SSA had, according to annual reports, been involved in matters relating to combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism. “The SSA was in fact doing it,” the Attorney General said. “Let us now legislate it.” The current SSA Act outlines its main functions in a list which is wide and not exhaustive. Among the main functions is acting as a centralised information centre for matters that could, “facilitate the detection and prevention of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs.” Al-Rawi said the detection rate was as low as three percent in relation to murders at one stage between 2010 and 2015. He said the National Security Council under former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar acquired $1 billion in, “surveillance equipment from Huawei.” He gave no details.
The Attorney General said policy documents drawn up by functionaries previously expressed satisfaction with the SSA Act, including its provisions in relation to the appointment of a director.
He did not state if the scope of those documents included consideration of the widening of the SSA’s powers to include probing “serious crimes”.
Al-Rawi further stated, “I want to put on the record the international agencies which Trinidad and Tobago cooperates with have insisted that they wish to do business with a country that has a formalised structure.
Listening to our international partners, we have accepted the wisdom of that argument and we are taking forward now, by way of persuasion for acceptance before honourable senators, a structure of the SSA which is one which we think is better.” During debate, Opposition Senator Wade Mark branded the Government “modern-day Nazis”, prompting Al-Rawi to object under Standing Order 46(4) which bars “offensive and insulting language about members.” Senate President Christine Kangaloo overruled the objection.