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News : Local Last Updated: Mar 21, 2019 - 12:39:47 PM

Rights Bahamas: Bahamas Police Force out of control
By Rights Bahamas
Mar 21, 2019 - 11:30:10 AM

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Rights Bahamas calls for full independent investigation; urges brutality victims to take independent legal action against the RBPF

Tuesday's shocking and appalling headline story in The Tribune is further evidence that the Royal Bahamas Police Force is now completely out of control. Brutality at the hands of officers has become so commonplace that the police might as well dispense with their halfhearted excuses for why they had to call an ambulance for a man after several house in their custody. No one believes them.

Police shootings and brutality claims have reached unprecedented levels under this FNM administration. Meanwhile, the complaints process is a bad joke, with officers investigating their own colleagues and friends with zero independent oversight. The minister of national security actually admitted that although it is mandated by law to vet police internal investigations, the civilian Police Complaints Inspectorate has not even been appointed. The police are their own judge and jury.

According to their internal statistics, there were 245 complaints against police last year – a shocking number in such a small society. Perhaps the police might want to reveal how many officers were found guilty and disciplined as a result. We suspect very few. There is a double standard in this society: if a civilian beats, suffocates, tortures an individual, they go to prison. If a police officer does it, nothing happens. Even worse, the motivation for this brutality is allegedly the extraction of confessions under duress– leading to the likelihood that over the years, the RBPF may have deprived hundreds if not thousands of innocent people of their liberty based through the use of these illegal and reprehensible tactics.

This cannot be allowed to continue. The government of the Bahamas is obligated to ensure that its law enforcement officers do not prey upon the public they are sworn to protect. Rights Bahamas hereby issues a call for a full and independent investigation of the alleged culture of beatings and torture at the Central Detective Unit and other RBPF units, and the seemingly highly-organised practice of using violence to extract confessions. This investigation should be conducted by experts totally unconnected with the RBPF, and preferably with international experience. The findings should be presented to the independent Director of Public Prosecutions to bring charges against offending officers before the Supreme Court. Let the chips fall where they may.

As for the victims of police brutality, while it is sensible to make a full and frank report of your ordeal to the Police Complaints Unit, it is clear that very little is likely to come from this process in terms of results. Thankfully, there are a number of legal options available to you, from lawsuits against the RBPF for damages to private prosecutions of the individuals responsible for your suffering. Rights Bahamas urges you to take action in any way that you can; we can be contacted for advice and support at any time.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of TheBahamasWeekly.com

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