JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding opened the debate on the Independent Commission of Investigations Bill, which seeks to establish a Commission of Parliament to investigate alleged abuses by the security forces, in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (February 10).
Mr. Golding told the House that nowhere has the issue of the abuse of the rights of ordinary citizens been brought into sharper focus, than in the frequent allegations of police brutality or excessive use of force by the security forces.
“Even where it does not involve injury, just sheer downright abuse and disrespect, it is a matter we cannot ignore,” Mr. Golding said.
He disclosed that 263 persons were fatally shot in 2009 by the police, 224 in 2008 and 272 in 2007. He said that, at the same time, murder of the police has been in double figures for each year since 1999.
“It is an all too familiar scene, an incident occurs, somebody is shot, demonstrations erupt, there are accusations and people cry for justice,” the Prime Minister noted.
He said that many in the public were quick to jump to conclusions; either that the police were wicked or, whether the victim was found with a gun or not, he is a criminal and deserves no sympathy.
“We cannot leave such an important area of law enforcement, to controversy or to the kind of processes to which we have been accustomed where some investigation is carried out, it may be completed or it may never be completed, but it is never done in a way which commands confidence among the public,” he insisted.
Mr. Golding noted, however, that there are instances where the use of deadly force may not be avoidable.
“There are some people out there that have not just a capacity, but an inclination, to viciousness and, even as we proclaim their innocence until found guilty, even as we recognise that their human rights are no less valuable and no less deserving of protection than yours or mine, let us not powder puff them,” he stated.
The Independent Commission of Investigations Act 2009 is aimed at repealing the Police Public Complaints Act to provide for the appointment of an Independent Commission of Investigations.
The new Commission would have regional offices, headed by a chairman or deputy chairmen, allowing for the conducting of investigations into complaints against the security forces, appointment of investigators to carry out investigations and ensuring that the necessary reports are submitted to the Commission.
Debate on the Bill will continue at the next sitting of the House of Representatives.