Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has urged authorities probing the recent killings of Morvant residents Joel Jacob, Noel Diamond and Israel Clinton to expedite matters or else the wounds from the situation will fester and allow “those who want to mislead and misguide to have an open field to operate.”
Speaking at a media briefing yesterday on the recent alleged extra-judicial killings in Morvant, Rowley said he was told two or three police units met up with the three young men and there were reasons to use force which resulted in the deaths.
Saying those genuine calls for justice are completely correct, he said that justice requires that people who are wronged should be able to determine that their concerns are met and there’s certain recompense. But for it to be served, he said evidence must be gathered.
He said the Police Complaints Authority has the duty to probe police officers’ actions, especially where the outcome is one of such great sadness generating such great anger.
But he said he would be less than honest to say “leave it to the PCA,” since he too had experienced the situation before and it also hadn’t been T&T’s experience to say leave it to the PCA and one day they’d give the result.
“It’s not been functioning that way,” he said, adding that absence of confidence exists.
“So we must ensure there are investigations that generate evidence.”
But to call for immediate action without evidence is to call for revenge, he said, warning against that.
On a possible timeline for the PCA to complete the task, he said Government has no control over the independent authority. But he said all systems should move with alacrity to ensure public hurt is salved in a timely way.
“It’s when it’s delayed the population will lose confidence,” he said.
As National Security Council chairman, Rowley said he expected evidence will be gathered and will determine who was responsible to be held accountable. If the process doesn’t, the next step is a full coroner’s inquest to determine who’s responsible, he said.
“We can’t take the position there are too many people on the scene and we can’t determine…the evidence has to be sorted through to its fullest.”
Rowley said he knew of no shortage of PCA resources but said if any are requested that can be given offhand, they’d be made available.
“But the responsibility needs to be discharged,” he stressed.
He said he expected in coming days every effort will be made to “collect every sliver of evidence” to ensure justice.
The PM also said he was satisfied with how police responded to Tuesday’s protests in Port-of-Spain. He said the police must be on a mission to win the population’s trust and must always be mindful that it has to win that or policing citizens will become more difficult. Saying he was pleased to see a recent poll which indicated that confidence in police was growing, he said the recent developments could damage that effort.
On police language he said, “I’d like to see language that indicates we’re not going to give up the territory to those who don’t want to be law-abiding and language that gives comfort that the police is up to the task.”
He said law-abiding citizens should have an interest in the police being viewed as protectors since if someday something happened in T&T that people thought Tuesday’s incident might have become, “...The next name you’ll be calling besides God’s is the police.”