Government doesn’t yet have a system which would have allowed immigration officials to acquire visa information from the United States which would have indicated that Trinidad and Tobago-born US-based rapper Nicki Minaj’s husband was an alleged sex offender in his native country.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi indicated this at yesterday’s post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in Port-of-Spain when asked about the matter.
The queries followed reports by US media, including TMZ, that Minaj’s husband, Kenneth Petty, was charged Wednesday with allegedly failing to register as a sex offender in California. E! News reported that the US Attorney’s Office of Los Angeles confirmed Petty surrendered to federal authorities Wednesday and was taken into custody. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a bond. Petty’’s denied the allegations.
US media claimed that Petty, who married Minaj last year, served almost four years in prison for attempted rape in New York in 1995 and 10 months for first-degree manslaughter in 2006. As a result of the rape charge, he was required to register as a sex offender in every state he subsequently moves to, including California where they now reside. He now faces up to 10 years in prison on the current charge. Since his arrest, Petty has had to wear an ankle monitor and has surrendered his passport.
Petty came under fire when he came here with Minaj for the recent Carnival festivities, after he shoved soca star Iwer George when he (George) attempted to get Minaj to perform part of his Road March hit collaboration with Kees Diefenthaller, Stage gone Bad, on Tribe’s music truck in the Socadrome at the Jean Pierre Complex, Mucurapo.
Minaj, whose real name is Onika Maraj-Petty, apologised to Trini masqueraders who reacted to the incident on social media, saying her husband was unaware of the Trini culture during the Carnival season and had been overly protective in the situation.
Questions were raised by the public about Petty being allowed into T&T by immigration due to his criminal history even before the news broke this week about his arrest.
Asked about the matter yesterday, Al-Rawi said T&T doesn’t have a visa arrangement with the US and so would not have been able to access such information. Currently, he said Government is working on the removal of Customs and Immigration forms and use of harmonised forms.
“So as we get advanced passenger information systems coming into effect, we’ll know who’s a sex offender or not,” the AG added.
Al-Rawi said he didn’t know the information about Petty and Immigration also didn’t know it but said there’s no mechanism to enforce that yet but added. He said T&T has bilateral relations with the US but it wasn’t that easy to get such information.
“But we’ll work our way towards that. We don’t have an immediate perfect solution right now but we’re in a materially more advantageous position than we were before, we’re headed in the right direction,” Al-Rawi said.
The AG said Government had wanted a sex offenders law, where a convicted sex offender’s passport could be stamped as such, “so Immigration officers would know automatically.” He said Canada has it but he said “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.”
However, Al-Rawi said Government had operationalised the local offenders’ law. He noted that in Parliament on Wednesday, MPs also passed law to broaden the category of sexual offences. He also reiterated improvements to increase the effectiveness of the Domestic Violence law – using electronic monitoring bracelets – are being drafted. It’s proposed that culprits against whom protection orders are issued, will be fitted with monitoring bracelets and the person who sought the order will also have corresponding bracelets which will alert them if the culprit breaches the order. Amendments will be laid in Parliament in a week.