Country Report on Terrorism 2018 - Chapter 1 - Trinidad and Tobago

Overview: The Trinidad and Tobago government took steps to implement a national counterterrorism strategy adopted in November 2017, including establishment of an inter-ministerial implementation committee chaired by the country’s Chief of Defense staff. The threat from the possible return of FTFs who traveled, or attempted to travel, to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS remains a primary concern. In February 2018, the government disrupted an ISIS-inspired terror attack against the country’s Carnival celebrations.

In April, Trinidad and Tobago, in cooperation with the United States, hosted Fused Response 18, a training exercise to enhance emergency preparedness for responding to natural disasters and combating transnational challenges, including terrorism, illicit trafficking, and organized crime.

2018 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist attacks reported in Trinidad and Tobago in 2018.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In July, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago passed legislation to amend its existing Anti-Terrorism Act. The amendments create several new terrorism-related criminal offenses; increase the criminal penalties for certain offenses; and allow the government to designate certain geographical zones as “conflict areas,” requiring notice to the government before one travels to those areas. The amendments entered into effect in August and apply to conduct carried out inside or outside Trinidad and Tobago. In November, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service arrested and charged a person for the first time under the amended Anti-Terrorism Act for inciting acts of racial violence by means of social media.

The government also continued its efforts to reform the criminal justice system to allow for more timely prosecutions; a lengthy judicial process can mean years before criminal prosecutions are resolved. In June, the government passed legislation to restructure the country’s judiciary as it relates to criminal matters. In November, the government introduced legislation to abolish preliminary inquiries, a remnant from the United Kingdom common law that has been identified as a major drain on prosecutors’ time and resources; it has been abandoned in the United Kingdom and many other Commonwealth countries.

In August, the government named a new Minister of National Security and appointed its first permanent Commissioner of Police since 2012. A variety of initiatives are underway to enhance police effectiveness, including a broad restructuring of the police service and the establishment of new operational units, which could positively affect counterterrorism efforts. In July, the government introduced 12 kiosks at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad that scan machine-readable passports and capture biometric information.

Since the disrupted Carnival plot, the United States and other international partners have offered training to increase the government’s capacity to investigate and prosecute terrorism-related offenses and expose key Trinidad and Tobago officials to global counterterrorism strategies and trends.

Trinidad and Tobago continued to list individuals and organizations domestically using the amended Anti-Terrorism Act that have been designated under the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime. More than 360 individuals and organizations have been listed since November 2015.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), a FATF-style regional body. The Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (FIUTT) is a member of the Egmont Group. In November 2017, FATF placed Trinidad and Tobago on its list of jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regimes (the “grey list”). Trinidad and Tobago developed an action plan at that time – including a high-level political commitment – with FATF to address these deficiencies. Throughout 2018, Trinidad and Tobago have done much to improve its AML regime, though its work with FATF and CFATF continues.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Parliament passed legislation that improves the ability of FIUTT and other agencies to cooperate with international partners on tax matters. The bill also broadens the FIUTT’s authority and facilitates the prosecution of standalone money laundering cases. The primary law enforcement unit responsible for conducting financial investigations increased its staffing and created policies to prioritize certain investigations, including terrorism financing cases.

For additional information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is developing a national CVE action plan, and the counterterrorism strategy adopted in November 2017 includes CVE elements. Several members of the Trinidad and Tobago government also form part of the U.S. Embassy-led “SafeCommuniTT,” a cross-societal network of nearly 80 stakeholders who have traveled on U.S. exchanges and received training in CVE best practices.

In March 2017, the city of Chaguanas joined the Strong Cities Network and is currently participating in a Strong Cities exchange program with Orlando, Florida. With support from the U.S. Embassy, a robust Sports Caravan Program brought together U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago athletes to engage with at-risk communities, along with members of municipal governments, the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force, Fire Services, and Police Service. In addition, the U.S. Embassy worked closely with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to conduct training and exchanges on enhancing police and community relations.

International and Regional Cooperation: Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the Organization of American States/Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the lead country with responsibility for crime and security. Trinidad and Tobago is working with other CARICOM member states to implement a regional counterterrorism strategy adopted by CARICOM in February.