September 24, 2020

Trinidad security ministry fires back at claims of extra judicial killings


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trinidad-police-740From Caribbean360

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday September 17, 2014, CMC – Amid growing concerns that police officers were engaged in extra judicial killings, the Ministry of National Security has said that more than 150 police officers have been shot at since 2012.

The Movement for Social Justice (), which at one time formed part of the coalition People’s Partnership government, had accused the police of acting as both “jury and executioner” as it commented on the 34 police killings so far this year.

On Tuesday, Roman Catholic priest officiating at a church service marking the start of the new Law term, said that the number of extra-judicial killings should be of concern to the entire population.

“These have been extra judicial killings. Let’s name it for what it is. I think all of us have to feel something about that,” he said, recalling a statement by the Polish-born American Rabii, Abraham Joshua Herschel that “some are but all are responsible.

“I have changed that in the context of Trinidad and Tobago today to say all are guilty, all are responsible and I feel myself to be guilty when I look at what goes on,” he said.

But while the government statement made no mention of ’s comments, it said that since 2012, a total of 197 police officers have been shot at, with four being killed and 14 injured.

The statement said that faced with this “harsh reality”, police officers “are forced to defend themselves even more than ever, resulting in an increase in fatalities at the hand of the police”.

The statement noted that up to September `11 this year, 72 police officers have been shot at, with seven being injured. Last year 55 police officers were shot at and three killed while in 2012 one police officer was killed and three injured after 70 police officers were fired upon.

“These statistics show that at an average of every five days over the last two and a half years, a police officer was shot at, which could very well lead to officers returning fire,” the release said.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith said he viewed the statement by the MSJ as “unjustified” and “unfortunate”

“Those who are making such accusations are saying that they already consider the police to be guilty in all cases when they shoot someone, whilst totally eliminating the possibility that criminal elements have now lost all respect for authority and by them shooting indiscriminately, it means that the police may now be forced to defend themselves, hence the reason for the increase in fatalities at the hands of the same police,” the release quoted Griffith as saying.

It said he “emphasised that at no time are members of the Police Service encouraged to act as ‘jury and executioner’ as some would want the public to believe” and “any such rogue behaviour by law enforcement personnel will never be encouraged under his watch”.

Griffith said the reality in this country now, however, is criminal elements have no respect for authority and therefore have “no qualms” about “indiscriminately shooting” at police office­rs.

“The result is that our police are forced to defend themselves even more now than ever, resulting in an increase in fatalities at the hand of the police,” the statement added.


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