By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
Rights Bahamas has called for an independent body to investigate allegations of police brutality and misconduct following the alleged assault of two young women by police in Exuma on Sunday.
In a statement Rights Bahamas demanded a full, aggressive and transparent investigation be carried out immediately.
“In recent weeks, there has been a highly concerning spike in the number of allegations of police brutality and misconduct in The Bahamas. This comes on the heels of a widely circulated and very alarming voice note, in which a retired Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) officer claimed that misconduct, beatings, forced confessions and perjury have been a pervasive and commonplace for years at all levels of the force,” the statement read.
“(This week) Rights Bahamas received photos and voice notes of yet another case of alleged police brutality that occurred on Exuma. The information suggests that two young ladies were severely beaten by a high-ranking officer during a traffic stop. The incident allegedly left the women’s bodies riddled with bruises and lacerations. One had her eyelid torn open. We have also heard reports that the other officers used violence against the other passengers of the vehicle, to the extent that both needed medical attention.”
The statement added: “The officer in question must be relieved of duty until the results of the investigation and if found culpable, arrested and charged with assault. The police are warned not to employ the usual tactic of charging the victims with some spurious crime, in an effort to simply make the matter go away.”
Rights Bahamas stated the world is watching including its international partners - Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
“We take any and all reports of human rights abuses very seriously and document each and every case into our international database. In 2018, we logged nearly 250 complaints against police officers,” the statement read.
“...We also call on the commissioner of police to turn the findings of all such investigations over to the Director of Public Prosecutions. In a county that prides itself on being transparent and fair, we trust that in cases where officers are found to be acting outside the laws of the Bahamas that charges be filed against them and that they will face disciplinary actions if found guilty.”
Rights Bahamas stated the group will fully investigate the recent alleged police brutality and document all findings into its international database.
“A copy of the same will be forwarded to the commissioner of police, the Corruption and Complaints Division of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, and the media.”
On Tuesday, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames spoke about the allegations. He pledged to make public the findings of an investigation into the incident, adding there will be no “cover-up” if officers are found culpable of wrong doing.
He also said a team was dispatched Exuma and started investigations almost immediately into the matter.