TCI News

TCI: Fingerprint row heating up, attorney says Police Commissioner wrong

#Providenciales, March 13, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – Mark Fulford has issued a letter to the Commissioner of Police James Smith and he said this is why: “Because of the information released by the Police which in my opinion is misleading and a blatant violation of our Constitutional rights, I am requesting that you suspend the implementation of taking fingerprints…”

Fulford rejected the Police media statement which said the Rehabilitation of Offenders Amendment Ordinance 2017 gives them the legal authority to request the fingerprints of any resident as a form of identification. Mr. Fulford says the spirit of the law and the wording of the law does not support the new policy of the Police which now makes it mandatory for fingerprints to be presented in order to collect police records.

“The Rehabilitation of Offenders “Amendment” Ordinance 2017 does not give the Police the powers to request fingerprints for general applicants for Police Records. This law ONLY give the Police the powers to request fingerprints FROM applicants who are rehabilitated (convicted) offenders who have not been re-convicted.”

Fulford accuses the Commissioner of Police of intentionally underestimating the acumen of islanders and citing the new policy, which took effect on Monday March 11, 2019, as unconstitutional.

“Our biometric rights are protected in the constitution of the TCI, and if the Police think that we will just give up our constitutional rights without it being lawful, they are wrong and all general applicants for Police Records who has NEVER been convicted of an offence should refuse to give their fingerprints unless and until Commissioner James Smith can show you the law which overrides your constitutional rights.”

The attorney, who also handles criminal cases from his firm, F Chambers Attorneys at Law explained that there is DNA potentially in those fingerprints Police now want applicants to turn over.

“When you provide a finger print it can leave a sweat deposit and therefore it is possible to obtain a person’s DNA from that sweat deposit.  If the sweat was classed as fluid from a tissue then it should be classed as an intimate sample and therefore a Court order and written consent would be required but then it can only be taken from a person in police detention.”

The main advice to the general public, do not give the Police your fingerprints. 

“The storing of fingerprints in a database violates the right to privacy enshrined in s9 of our constitution and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I call on the Commissioner for Human Rights to advise the Police to cease the implementation of the taking of fingerprints from general applicants as to do so would be a violation of our Human Rights.”

There has been silence on the issue by elected officials, who would have recently voted upon this ordinance becoming law in the House of Assembly.

By April 1, 2019, the cost of Police Records will also be tripled; Mr. Mark Fulford is also against the 300 percent hike in price. 

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