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Editorial

Attorney General Faris Al Rawi’s revelation on Thursday that Trinidad and Tobago does not currently have a system for advance information on sex offenders entering T&T is worrisome.

It arose when reporters asked the AG how Kenneth Petty, the husband of Trinidad-born US rapper, Nicki Minaj, was allowed into the country for Carnival.

According to the AG, T&T doesn’t have a visa arrange­ment with the US and so would not have been able to ac­cess such in­for­ma­tion.

Petty ought not to have been given clearance to enter the country as easily as he did.

He was convicted of first-degree attempted rape in 1995 when he was 16. He served almost four years for that crime but in 2006 he was back in prison for manslaughter.

Court records showed that during his time behind bars he was cited for nine separate violations, and got four months in solitary confinement as punishment.

That a convicted sex offender was also allowed inside the St Jude’s Home for Girls during his visit here, only added insult to injury.

There is an urgent need now for the pursuit of proper treaties to allow better checks of those coming here, not only from the US but from every other country as well.

The system worked well in April last year when Jamaican dancehall artiste, Buju Banton needed special permission from Minister of National Security, Stuart Young to enter the country. Banton had just finished serving a jail term in the US for conspiracy to traffic drugs.

Young’s position was clear, “Buju Banton falls foul of our immigration laws in Trinidad and Tobago. I have asked that it be conveyed to the organisers of the concert that they need to make an application to the minister.”

Given that the Immigration laws were not capable of raising a red flag on Petty’s crimes, we have more work to do.

We need mechanisms to ensure that this does not happen again.

The AG offered some hope, however, saying that as Gov­ern­ment works to replace Cus­toms and Im­mi­gra­tion forms with har­monised forms, ad­vanced pas­sen­ger in­for­ma­tion sys­tems will come in­to ef­fect.

When that is done, “We’ll know who’s a sex of­fend­er or not,” he said.

But Al Rawi also told reporters that Gov­ern­ment had sought a sex offenders law where a con­vict­ed sex of­fend­er’s pass­port could be stamped as such, “so Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers would know au­to­mat­i­cal­ly.”

He added, “the in­ter­est groups” didn’t want that for T&T and Gov­ern­ment had to com­ply or the ad­min­is­tra­tion wouldn’t have got­ten the “kind of sup­port we want­ed.”

In the wake of International Women’s Day celebrated yesterday, we encourage the Government and Opposition to revisit how we address these issues. Petty politics should not stand in the way of the safety of our women and girls.