‘Hundreds’ of prisoners released through commissioner


Faris Al-Rawi

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi doubled down on his statement that hundreds of people have been released from prisons under changes to the dangerous drugs bill and as a measure to protect against the spread of covid19.

At a news conference at the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs in Port of Spain on Monday, Al-Rawi said his office looked at different ways in which prisoners could be released. He said they came up with the idea that releases could happen through state prison laws, where the Commissioner of Prisons has the ability to take people out of the system, through the public defenders system, through the Mercy Committee, or through the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“The easiest was using the state prisons laws. I could confirm that hundreds of people have come out as a result of that mechanism.”

He said through the public defenders department, at least two Tobagonian boys were released under marijuana legislation amendments.

He added, people seeking release through the Mercy Committee would now have to give individual representations, and a system has been put in place to manage the matters before the committee.

Al-Rawi also said the DPP is looking at cases where he is able to end prosecutions.

“It isn’t that the cases were put before the courts and we released a bunch of people. We didn’t put all our eggs in one basket.”

In March, prisoners rioted and attempted to escape the Golden Grove prison in Arouca, claiming they were afraid of the effect the virus would have on them if there was an outbreak.

In the fracas, two prison officers were injured and state property was damaged.

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