By Peter Binose
Murdering each other, shooting each other, assaulting each other, sexually assaulting each other. Beating and assaulting their own women and girl friends. Raping their own and other people’s children.
Taking bribes from drug dealers. Dealing drugs, transporting drugs, hunting down wanted and accused members of the public and killing them. Meeting known drug dealers on deserted beaches to discuss import and export policy and payment. Using a kill on sight policy. Police officers calling on and having sexual affairs with women whose husbands or boyfriends are in prison. Common place torture mentally and physically. Terrorising the public. Taking people to deserted places and beating and assaulting them.
Picking up people in a police vehicle and dumping them miles from their home, making them walk home in the quiet of the night. Cruelly beating and assaulting people accused and/or suspected of committing a crime. Beating confessions from people using hose pipe as a weapon of persuasion. Inflicting life threatening injuries on those in custody. Failing to report each others crimes, failing to prosecute fellow police officers. Failing to act on information of allegations against ruling party politicians. Ignoring a million dollars in United States currency cash that was reportedly taken to a bank in an old bag. Failing to investigate where the huge amounts of cash came from that ULP family members were banking and spending. Failing to properly investigate rape accusations against politicians. Failing to act on information, allegations and accusations of bribery. Acting in a partisan way and favouring one political party and its supporters only. Telling lies and presenting false evidence, including planting false evidence on persons and their property. Police officers reportedly sent out with a book to issue tickets to vehicle owners, must issue tickets to the value of their wages each week.
Not occasionally, these matters are becoming common practice.
The police are lazy, don’t want to attend crime scenes, don’t want to come out and investigate. “Sorry, we have no transport” is a common excuse.
Turning up at crime scenes days later, or failing to turn up at all.
They are totally useless, many untrained in investigation and detection, those that are trained rarely catch real criminals, without beating confessions from people, from people that may or may not have committed the crime.
There are even a number of police officers who are convicted felons and have criminal records.
Phones switched off in police station because the bill hasn’t been paid. Electricity and water possibly never or only occasionally paid. The older police buildings over-run with rats.
Several sources report that there have been complaints of police abuse in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (The Vincentian 16 Sept. 2010; JFJ 2007, 9; SVGHRA 25 Oct. 2010). The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee (HRC) expressed concern about complaints of “unwarranted” police practices such as the use of excessive force and a high percentage of convictions based on confessions (UN 24 Apr. 2008, para. 10). The SVGHRA, as reported by the United States (US) Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009, similarly claims that the police have used unnecessary physical force to extract confessions from suspects in custody (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 1c). In a 2007 report about police accountability in the Caribbean, the NGO Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) also indicates that citizens have complained about police abuse in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; their complaints include the “use of physical force during detention, illegal search and seizure, and failure to inform those arrested of their rights” (2007, 9).
More recently, the President of SVGHRA stated that there has been a “steady increase” in reports of police brutality and misconduct, including threats, verbal harassment, and “physical abuse, often bordering on torture” (25 Oct. 2010). The SVGHRA President maintains that some police officers abuse their power to detain a suspect for 24 hours for questioning by doing so without cause (SVGHRA 25 Oct. 2010). She stated that she is aware of “countless reports” of police brutality by members of the public and prisoners (ibid.).
According to Saint Vincent and the Grenadine’s national newspaper The Vincentian, the Commissioner of Police acknowledged that the police force has “shortcomings,” including unprofessionalism, complacency, poor behaviour by some officers, and “poor or tardy response to complaints from the public” (16 Sept. 2010). The Vincentian editorial also added to the Commissioner’s list of shortcomings, faulting the police for treating young offenders and innocent civilians harshly, using “unnecessary force,” and concealing the misconduct of some officers (16 Sept. 2010).
Sources report that three police officers were charged with causing bodily harm to a teenager (SVGHRA 25 Oct. 2010; US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 1c; CMC 4 Feb. 2010). The victim reportedly testified that in November 2008, while in custody for questioning about a burglary, police officers beat and kicked him several times in the stomach and chest (ibid.). The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) reports that the officers were ordered by the magistrate to pay fines of 1,500 East Caribbean (EC) dollars (US $560) or face six-month prison sentences (ibid.). Country Reports 2009 indicates that the officers were suspended from duty when they were charged (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 1c).
The SVGHRA President provided two examples of specific cases of police misconduct (SVGHRA 25 Oct. 2010). In one case, a police officer was charged with having sexual intercourse with a girl between the ages of 13 and 16; in the other case, a police officer was charged with murdering his former girlfriend and her lover, and then attempting to conceal the murder (ibid.). According to the SVGHRA President, other examples of police misconduct range from traffic violations, to failing to properly investigate citizen complaints, to intimidating people by threatening them with arrest (ibid.).
Two sources also reported on two other incidents involving police use of force (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 1c; The Vincentian 26 Aug. 2010). In May 2009, security officers shot and killed three suspects during a narcotics raid (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 1c). Although the police claim that the actions were taken in self-defence, Country Reports 2009 notes that the SVGHRA and a civil society advocate maintain that the suspects were unarmed and that the officers used excessive force (ibid.). More locally, The Vincentian reports that in August 2010, a police officer was charged with the murder of another police officer, who was allegedly shot in the chest in the cafeteria of the Biabou Police Station (26 Aug. 2010).
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].