I note with more than passing interest the protests that have erupted over the killing of three men in the Morvant area. While I may not be in total agreement with the methods adopted by the protesters, I can understand the sense of helplessness they feel.
The term “extrajudicial killing” was used some time ago with reference to questionable killings by members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), of which there have been too many, dating back many years.
In many instances, citizens have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. In the aftermath of the vast majority of these killings, there has been a lack of action by the authorities aimed at unearthing the truth. The end result is a multiplicity of unanswered questions.
A case in point is the killing of George “Ozzie” Ashby which occurred 11 long, painful years ago. To date, not even an inquest has been called to ascertain the facts surrounding his killing. Where officers have exceeded their authority, with no attendant consequences, they could well become emboldened, leading to more loss of life.
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is supposed to provide checks and balances for our Police Service, but for all intents and purposes it is a “toothless bulldog”. Investigations are conducted and upon completion, files are submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions who then determines the way forward.
In the case of Mr Ashby, there has been no way forward. To the best of my knowledge, the file is collecting dust in that office. In my humble view, the PCA should be vested with the authority to press charges where warranted.
Additionally, there is the Professional Standards Bureau of the TTPS; however impartial that body may be, there will always be the perception that it is a case of himself investigating himself. When people are made to believe that their voices are not being heard, they will resort to other means.
I must however hasten to add that I do not condone the violence, but I am mindful of the words of the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. He is quoted as having said, “Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest”.
To avoid recurrence of the disturbing events seen recently, justice must be swift and seen to be done in a manner which leads to the belief that it is indeed for all.