Wednesday 25 November, 2020

PCA responds to PM: Powers too limited

Captured on video: Three men were shot and killed by police officers in Morvant on June 27.

Captured on video: Three men were shot and killed by police officers in Morvant on June 27.

The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has responded to statements made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who on Thursday said the Authority is not functioning as it should.

Dr Rowley made the comment as he called for a speedy and proper investigation into the fatal police shooting of three men in Morvant on June 27. 

The killings have sparked widespread fiery protests in and around the capital city of Port of Spain.

The PCA, an independent body designed specifically to conduct investigations into allegations of both serious police misconduct and criminal offences, has initiated an investigation into the incident.

Following the Prime Minister's statements, the Authority stated that it has been plagued by many limitations and challenges.

In a statement on Thursday, the PCA noted that since 2012 it requested a series of amendments that have yet to be approved by the Legislation Review Committee.

It said it looks forward to its continued work with that Committee to finalise the amendments.

The PCA said it has sought amendments to improve functionality, including, but not limited to:

• Strengthening the requirement for immediate notification by the Offices of the Commissioner of Police and the Police Service Commission in relation to matters within the PCA’s purview;

• Being allowed to retrieve scientific evidence from the scenes of officer involved shootings including firearms, ammunition and DNA;

• Preserving the scenes of officer involved shootings;

• Submitting for testing all evidence obtained during an interrogation of the scene of an officer involved shooting.

The PCA added that in 2016 it hosted two public consultations on the matter of the pending amendments.

It noted that the Attorney General agreed that the PCA’s powers are too limited.

It said in the absence of amended legislation, the Authority has been relegated to rely on other institutional bodies, including the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), which as a result, delays the course of its investigations.

It said this, in turn, poses further challenges in receiving in a timely manner: critical documents from the Forensic Science Centre such as post mortems and certificates of analysis; TTPS investigative files for auditing purposes; and reports from officers who discharged their firearms or were present during such discharges.

The PCA said it has sought to remedy the aforementioned issues through discussing a Memorandum of Understanding with the TTPS which is yet to accede formally to the terms and conditions necessary to facilitate same.

In spite of these challenges, the PCA said it has made significant referrals to both the Offices of the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It said these achievements have been accomplished through the hard work and dedication of the staff of the PCA.

The Authority said while it is statutorily bound by confidentiality, details of referrals which are disclosable will be released in due course.  

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