Police come under fire
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has been urged to ensure that claims of abuse of power by the Royal Barbados Police Force are thoroughly investigated.
The force came in for a barrage of criticism from a cross section of Barbadians during the question and answer session following the Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture delivered by Dr Irene Khan, former secretary general of Amnesty International at the Frank Collymore Hall last Monday night.
Khan spoke on Why Freedom Matters: Challenges And Opportunities For Human Rights In The 21st Century.
Several members of the audience related personal stories, alleging abuse of power by police.
“There is a problem with the police being overzealous; they abuse their authority; there is no functioning Police Complaints Authority. There is a problem here with the police complaints process,” one man complained to the Amnesty official.
Another, identifying himself as an attorney-at-law, related acts of torture which he said clients reported had been inflicted on them while they were in police custody.
A woman said she had beaten by police in her own home.
But the most impassioned plea for attention came from Maggie Maloney, mother of the late Ayakobi Tacuma Maloney, who appealed to Khan to tell the story about her son’s death to the world.
“I would love that as you travel, and you give your speeches and you tell about the other people, I would like you to also, please, and I beg you, to include the story of Ayakobi . . . Maloney.”
In response, Khan said: “It is fairly clear that there are a number of people here who clearly feel that the police behaviour is more than something to be desired.”
And in a word of advice to law enforcement, she said: “When you want to be an effective law enforcement officer, you have to have the confidence of the community. If you really want to tackle crime, the community has to help you.
“You cannot fight the community in trying to deal with crime, and it’s that confidence that has to be created and that is why it is so important that complaints are properly investigated.”
Looking at the Attorney General sitting in the front row, Khan said: “And I am sure the Attorney General will do that.”
In remarks preceding Khan’s lecture, Brathwaite had outlined several international treaties and covenants to which Barbados is a signatory, and which dealt with various aspects of human rights protection.
“I can assure you that under my watch, there will be innovative additions to pre-existing tabulation of rights whenever the dispensing of justice demands it,” Brathwaite said.
Here, Former Secretary General of Amnesty International Dr Irene Khan (right) chatting with (from left) Mrs Sherman Moore, Chief Justice Sherman Moore, Central Bank Governor Dr De Lisle Worrell, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo and Rex Suckoo at the Frank Collymore Hall.