I am concerned about comments attributed to the Commissioner of Police in the Press of December 18, 2012. He is quoted as indicating that the recent dismissal of charges against a man accused of rape did not necessarily mean that he was not guilty.
I am concerned because it is for the courts to decide the innocence or guilt on an individual, not the police. As soon as we begin to tread this treacherous path, we run the risk of undermining human rights in this country.
Andrew Pilgrim, the attorney representing the former accused, had previously commented that he had received no forensic evidence from the hands of the police. This indicates that, yet again, the police had sought to rely, perhaps solely, on a signed confession to secure a conviction. This appears the norm in an age where other police departments around the region and the world focus on forensic investigation and rely on confessions only to provide supporting evidence.
The other related issue is that there are absolutely no controls over the manner in which these confessions are obtained. The Attorney General promised recently that the issue of ensuring that all police stations were equipped with video facilities for this purpose would be put on the front burner, but nothing has been said on this recently, and it appears to be business as usual at our police stations.
I firmly believe that there is a serious problem with the way in which policing is conducted in this country. There seems to be a belief that one ought not to question the conduct of police officers, and that suspects in custody have no rights. Many lawyers have complained that police officers prevent them from seeing their clients by adopting a practice which may be referred to as stalling or stonewalling while they seek to secure the all-important confession.
It is said that many mothers have called each and every station in this island looking for their sons who might have been arrested for whatever reason, only to hear “he is not here”. More often than not, their sons turn up, complete with a signed confession, a short while later.
We can choose to pretend that these things do not happen; we can choose to pretend that these things do not matter, but scripture, and history, tell us that those nations which tolerate the abuse of the poor will suffer the wrath of God.
— Mark A. Parris
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