Rowley, speaking in Parliament, said that the children were under the “supervision and control of the state security services” and that they were “photographed by elements of the state security services”.
He said he was surprised that the pictures ended up being shown in Parliament, thereby putting the lives of the children at risk.
”Two things happen here. The officer who would have taken that picture and to have publicised it as part of the work going on at Camp Cumuto that officer would have breached a level of security and has created a threat for the children of the Attorney General.”
Prime Minister Rowley told legislators that he was appealing to “those fortunate persons who are in our security system, especially those who are charged with the responsibility of protecting officers of state and their families that they have a duty and they must have some respect for the job that they carry out.
“Because if it is you lose confidence in the people around you who are to safeguard you from those who would want to harm you, I rather be without them,” he said.
“This is a very serious matter. Recently I had to remove Special Branch from the Prime Minister’s detail because they went on a platform and say they can’t guarantee the prime minister’s security and the parliamentarians who are supposed to hold people accountable for their jobs…that’s a mark to frighten all of us,” he said with respect to the statement by opposition legislator Dr.Roodal Moonilal.
“It is a mark that should frighten all of us because it means it is irresponsible on the part of the officer who took that picture,” he said, reminding legislators that the children “were under the supervision of the highest level of security in the country”.
On Tuesday, opposition legislator Moonilal told Parliament that “it was shocking” for him to have received “photos of young children in this country with high-powered weapons training somewhere.
“I’m told the weapon is the UMP nine millimetre calibre,” he said, adding that they were commonly used by the Defence Force.
“What is more frightening and I say this with trepidation, is that I am told these children bear a striking resemblance to the children of a senior Cabinet minister,” he said.
“I’d say they are children with a striking resemblance to senior government officials. I will now ask the Attorney General – I’ll pass it to him – if he recognises the children in this photo.”
Moonilal said that he understood the pictures were taken out in October 2015 and posted on a Facebook page named, ‘Kick out the PNM (People’s National Movement)’
“It is wrong to tell the children of Laventille, Beetham, Enterprise, Penal, Debe, Barrackpore that they should not take up guns, but then we have our own children taking up guns. If what I am saying is correct it speaks to recklessness, it speaks to a breach of the criminal law, it speaks of an abuse of office, it speaks of an unfitness to hold public office.
“And if anyone is deemed to be responsible for these children, they ought to demit public office today,” Moonilal said.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi later told reporters that while he had not seen the pictures his family had received a threat assessment and instruction from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) after he received several deaths threats since assuming office in September last year.
“I can’t speak for the Army or for anything else, but can tell you that threat assessments have to be treated seriously. If the Army tells you they have done a threat assessment against you and your family and you have to come in and be informed about it, and if Special Branch tells you there are protocols, you don’t take that lightly,” the Attorney General said..
Al-Rawi said that after the threats and upon the instructions of the army in particular, “my family was taken up to the Cumuto (army) 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 officeand that Young also received similar threat assessments.
“For someone such as Roodal Moonilal, who acted as prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago to raise the issue of children in a budget debate I find most reprehensible.”
Prime Minister Rowley told legislators that the decision by those in the state security to pass information to the Opposition “in order to come and buss a mark in the Parliament is meant to harm.
“If a person close to you who is detailed and paid to secure you will take steps to try to harm you and your family, you don’t want them near you,” he said.
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