An extrajudicial killing is one done in a country, by one or more persons, without the benefit of any legal process. Regrettably, some African, many Latin American, quite a few Asian and a handful of European countries practise such barbarity.
Currently, the nationwide conversations suggest extrajudicial killings by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), without the availability of any investigative report by any entity, whether it be the TTPS, Police Complaints Authority (PCA) or any person or organisation. This in itself suggests an unfortunate conclusion, which is more emotional than logical. Can this not be considered a form of barbarism, an absence of civility?
Common sense would suggest that the police officers allegedly involved in extrajudicial killings should voluntarily request to be sent on leave during the investigation to signify that they will not “bully” anyone and that the investigating authorities can perform their work unfettered.
Has the Police Commissioner (CoP) reviewed the policies of the TTPS? What does the Police Service Commission (PSC) have to say? Why are the industrial relations (IR) practitioners so silent? There are differing views between the PCA, CoP and the lawyers association on what should be done. Why? There is so much talk about civility and what is right or wrong, yet maturity seems to escape us in articulating what needs to be done. How civil as a society are we really?
The PCA alleges that it does not have the necessary resources to do its own investigations. Have they protested? How many have resigned owing to the inability to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently? What is the value of the PSC? Has any criminologist, IR practitioner or attorney offered their services to ensure closure to this sordid affair? Unfortunately, the TTPS has got another “daub of ugly paint” through the belief that extrajudicial killings have occurred.
Over the years, the TTPS has been seen as inefficient and corrupt, yet there seems to be no tangible efforts being made by “experts” from higher-learning institutions, psychologists, criminologists, non-governmental organisations and the general public to assist it in its efforts to become honest and honourable. Is the TTPS being considered as the black sheep of society, rather than one of its protectors?
Truth be told, the majority of Trinbagonians are totally fed up of runaway crime despite lots of money being spent by governments in their attempts at managing it, but a more concerted effort is required. Two key elements are the judiciary and lawyers association. The judiciary seems a law unto itself and listens to none. The very popular legal maxim, “Justice delayed is justice denied”, seems unknown to our judiciary as the belief is that cases must go on for many years to be of value.
Compounded with this supposed belief is the fact that criminal attorneys seem more inclined to defend their clients, which is part of their learning, but what is their view on multiple crimes being committed by the same person? What interests have they expressed in assisting the judiciary and other law enforcement agencies in tackling crime?
It is true that the TTPS complains about wanting an improved working environment, such as better police stations, proper working vehicles, functioning security cameras and use of technology. Policemen have been so beaten upon that they may have lost motivation. The CoP himself has a “running battle” with the judiciary and attorneys, but what method of dispute resolution has been utilised to ease tensions among the TTPS, PCA, judiciary and criminal attorneys?
How many attorneys and judges have been championing efficiency in the legal system? Or is it in their vested interest to propagate the existing system for purely selfish gain? Each defence or time that a matter is called means financial gain for some and loss of assets for others.
No one, it seems, cries for a fallen police officer, except his family. Yet the entire country, with very few exceptions, seemingly turns a blind eye to criminality and the criminal elements who attack or take the lives of police officers. Instead of constantly targeting the TTPS for extrajudicial killings, which may very well have occurred, insistence should be on what policies are b eing practised by the TTPS and why are the investigations taking so long, rather than chastising and berating the TTPS and CoP, in particular.
The relevant authorities should assist and not desist from their responsibilities. Let maturity and good sense prevail, primarily in this time of tension between the TTPS and others.
Who will police the police?