SSA Bill now law… President signs it off

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President Anthony Carmona on Tuesday assented to the Strategic Services Agency (Amendment) Bill 2016.

Therefore, the controversial piece of legislation is now law.Carmona assented to the Bill, which he received on May 16, according to a statement from the Office of the President.

The Strategic Services Agency (Amendment) Act No. 4 of 2016 amends the Strategic Services Agency Act, Chap. 15:06 of the Laws of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

According to the President: “In every Bill to be assented, there is always a need or cause for pause. The assenting to Bills can neither be pre-emptive or instanter, often dependent upon His Excellency’s consultation and receipt of legal advice.

“Accordingly, assenting to Bills of this Republic will continue to be for His Excellency the President, a process of constitutional and legal reflection, analysis and determination vis-a-vis his duties and responsibilities pursuant to section 61(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Section 61(2) states, “When a Bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall signify that he assents or withholds his assent.”

According to the Office of the President, the Bill engaged President Carmona’s remit: “with the highest regard to the national security interests and democratic well-being of our Republic.

The President has paid careful heed, and acknowledges the impressive jurisprudential arguments, in and out of the Parliament, by the public at large, both for and against the various legislative amendments, inclusive those concerning privacy and fundamental rights and freedoms”.

According to the statement, “His Excellency assures that our Republic’s safety, the security of its citizens and our fundamental rights and freedoms are of paramount importance to him always. It is therefore expected that the operation of the Strategic Services Agency (Amendment) Act No. 4 of 2016, will be engaged meaningfully and justly, with regard and respect for the rule of law, due process and the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago”.

The SSA Bill was passed in the House of Representatives in April by a simple majority of the Opposition voting against it.

In the Senate, the Government got the votes of Independent Senators Ian Roach and Justin Junkere to vote in favour of the Bill in May. The Opposition and the seven other Independent Senators voted against the Bill.

There were calls for the President not to assent to the Bill because there were claims the Bill violated one’s privacy.

President Anthony Carmona

President Anthony Carmona

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