Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune Staff
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
AS he urged those aggrieved by officers to make their complaints known with the Complaints and Corruptions Unit, Royal Bahamas Police Force Commissioner Anthony Ferguson said the process must be fair on all sides.
The Police Act mandates that complaints against officers be addressed within six months, yet some have been waiting more than a year for police to address their complaints and have yet to get an update.
In one recent case, two people were told time had run out for their matter to be addressed, even though they made timely complaints.
Despite the concerns, Commissioner Ferguson admitted yesterday that people may get weary with the process, but he was confident police will investigate all matters properly.
“If you are aggrieved by any action taken by police, you would report the matter to the police complaints unit, who I have every confidence in, will investigate the matter and where there is action to be taken action will be taken,” the police chief said yesterday in response to a question about grievances against the police.
“I think sometime people are a little weary that the outcome of the action is not the way they would like it, but we have to understand the Royal Bahamas Police Force is no different from any other society.
“There has to be due process.”
He continued: “You have to be fair to people who complaints are made (against) and the law is quite clear and the procedures are quite clear on investigations of complaints.
“The question I will ask is wouldn’t you want someone to be fair with you if somebody is accusing you of something? I am sure the answer would be yes and so we’ll continue to be fair to all persons who make reports and all persons who the reports are made against.”
Police have in recent months come under fire for alleged abuses against people in their custody.
Last month The Tribune exclusively reported that the RBPF was being sued for allegedly torturing three people in a bid to secure confessions from them.
Two men and a woman in Eleuthera, who were questioned at the Governor’s Harbour Police Station in January 2018, say they were bound, beaten and fish-bagged before being released without charge. One claimed police poured hot sauce into his eyes.
The trio made formal complaints at the Complaints and Corruption Unit but, after hearing nothing for more than a year, they pursued their case in court.
However, days after the story went public, they were told the time had expired for their matter to be addressed by the force, despite the timely complaints they had made.
Before this, the father of Shavar Bain Jr, the toddler who was abducted in mid-February and later left outside a washhouse in Fox Hill, alleged police beat him to force a confession that he was involved in the kidnapping of his own child.
The child’s mother, Dwaynira Thurston also said her human rights were violated when police came to arrest her but refused to give her the privacy of getting dressed.
Mr Bain went on to file a report with the Complaints and Corruptions Unit.
It is unclear if there has been movement in the investigation.
Recent reports also indicate the Police Complaints Inspectorate, which oversees the RBPF’s investigations into complaints to ensure they are impartial, has been non-functional. It is not clear whether National Security Minister Marvin Dames has appointed anyone to the inspectorate as the law mandates. According to the most recent US human rights report, the inspectorate has not met since September 2017.