Sunday 5 April, 2020

Griffith: 2017 attack against journalist still under investigation

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is assuring members of the public that the investigation into the assault of a media reporter in 2017, is still under investigation.

It follows a statement by the Media Association (MATT), calling on Griffith and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, to provide a thorough explanation for their failure to prosecute A&V Oil and Gas CEO Hanif Nazim Baksh and his son-in-law Cpl Billy Ramsundar for an assault on Guardian Media senior photographer Kristian De Silva. The case was reportedly dismissed by the presiding magistrate due to their failure to appear in court.

In a statement on Sunday in response, Griffith said the matter is still receiving the police service’s attention.

“This is indeed a serious matter which must and would be investigated, and the CoP has already commenced the investigation, by meeting the Head of the Professional Standards Bureau over the weekend, to ascertain what transpired, what can be done and what action should be taken.”

The Top Cop also sought to allay the concerns of journalists who were worried about their ability to conduct their duties in a safe environment. He assured that the TTPS will ensure their protection.

“ The CoP also takes the opportunity to inform MATT and all media reporters, that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) would do all that is required to ensure their safety, particularly when they embark on very sensitive matters, at times in dangerous terrain, while conducting their duties. The CoP reaffirms that they would be protected to ensure that they are able to perform their duties without fear or injury.”

As it relates to members of the public, Griffith advised that citizens cannot debar members of the media from performing their job, especially if they are in a public space.

“..so such incidents as physically preventing reporters from public spaces and trying to block them from taking photographs and other media-related activities, can be deemed an offence.”

Meanwhile, Griffith urged MATT to address some of its future concerns privately rather than issuing a media release. He lamented that the previous MATT executive did this and constantly met with the CoP on issues of concern. This, as he urged “consultation over confrontation”.

“It is interesting that the new MATT executive would see it fit to issue a media release to demand explanations from the TTPS and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), without even having the basic courtesy to ask to meet with both parties, in order to ascertain what may have gone wrong. The CoP has on several occasions asked to meet with MATT, as both bodies have a critical role to play in the development of the nation, and they have refused to do so, hence, this pattern of media releases for confrontation is not unique with the apparent leadership style of MATT. It would be interesting to know why MATT did not simply ask to meet with the TTPS or the DPP, to clarify what took place, instead of blasting a media release. It can lead one to wonder if the focus is more on discrediting agencies, instead of finding a way to solve a problem.”

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