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New call for probe on police brutality

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

HUMAN Rights Bahamas has demanded full and fair investigations into allegations of police brutality and misconduct, insisting that if the public cannot feel safe in the presence of officers all human rights are at risk.

HRB pinpointed several instances of alleged egregious complaints by citizens against police officers, which they say highlight unprofessionalism.

One such recent incident was a young woman suspected of a traffic offence who was placed in the same holding cell as a male suspect who proceeded to masturbate in her presence and indecently assault her.

“It is completely unfathomable that such careless and unprofessional negligence could occur at a police station in The Bahamas,” HRB said in a statement released to The Tribune yesterday.

HRB further noted a 2019 incident in which a man was held at gunpoint and assaulted by the police resulting in eight of his teeth being knocked out or damaged.

He was awarded $82,000 in damages by the courts, but the police force has remained silent regarding any disciplinary actions against the officer involved.

In another incident, a viral video has also been circulated showing an unidentified man, allegedly an off-duty police officer, choking a young woman with both his hands around her neck, pushing her against a vehicle as he shouts for a pair of handcuffs and demands the cell phone recording the incident be turned over to him.

The woman in the video and her boyfriend have since been charged with assaulting officers.

“Recording a law enforcement officer in the execution of their duties is not a criminal offence in The Bahamas; for the officer in question to seek to confiscate and presumably delete the footage therefore represents a violation of an individual’s fundamental rights to property and freedom of expression,” HRB said.

The group also said the long-suffering family of Marvin Pratt is still trying to learn his whereabouts after he suddenly disappeared. He was reportedly last seen in police custody more than three years ago. Eyewitnesses claim he was placed in a marked police vehicle and taken to the Central Detective Unit. To this day, the police deny having any arrest or detention record for Mr Pratt.

In March 2019 Supreme Court Justice Andrew Forbes delayed his ruling on a habeas corpus application in the case of 40-year-old Mr Pratt, after agreeing that government filings in the case have not fully addressed the specifics as laid out in the application.

During those proceedings, counsel for Mr Pratt, Callenders & Co lawyer Crispin Hall, argued the response filed by the attorney for the Crown, Ryan Sands, on behalf of Chief Superintendent Solomon Cash, the officer-in-charge of the Central Detective Unit, only spoke to the role of his unit and not the entire Royal Bahamas Police Force.

Mr Hall further argued the response neglected to clearly address the roles of then-Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson and then-Attorney General Carl Bethel – the two other respondents named in the habeas corpus application.

The habeas corpus application sought to compel the Royal Bahamas Police Force to produce the Gambier Village resident police deny having in custody.

Mr Pratt’s family insisted Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) officers arrested him on December 5, 2018, a claim then-Commissioner Anthony Ferguson denied.

“We are demanding that Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe and the Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle conduct a full and fair investigation into these and other similar recent events of police brutality and misconduct.

“If members of the public cannot feel safe in the presence of law enforcement officers, all of our human rights are at risk,” HRB said yesterday.

Comments

DWW 2 years, 7 months ago

key word is transparent

JokeyJack 2 years, 7 months ago

Yall wearing masks nearly 2 years now and talking about human rights being "at risk"???? LOL. Human rights long gone. Keep ya mask on and shut up.

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