“[…] NJAC believes that contrary to what has been recently expressed by the commissioner of police, the suspension of the officers should not be determined by the number of officers involved—but rather based on principle and process.
Such action would ensure that the investigative process is transparent and would engender more confidence by the public in the process…”
The following press statement on the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service response to the killing of Morvant residents Joel Jacobs, Isaiah Clinton and Noel Diamond and the effectiveness of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) was submitted to Wired868 by the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC):
The National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) calls for the immediate suspension of the police officers involved in the shooting of three men at Juman’s Drive, Second Caledonia Morvant, on Saturday 27 June 2020.
NJAC believes that contrary to what has been recently expressed by the commissioner of police, the suspension of the officers should not be determined by the number of officers involved—but rather based on principle and process.
Such action would ensure that the investigative process is transparent and would engender more confidence by the public in the process. As it is often times said, justice must not only be done, but also appear to be done.
Failure to adopt this course of action can only serve to worsen an already inflamed situation.
NJAC also calls for urgent amendment to the Police Complaints Authority Act in order to increase the effectiveness and authority of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA). According to director of the PCA David West, quoted in a newspaper article headlined ‘Toothless PCA wants power on Friday 29 June 2018:
“People say we are toothless. There is no way for us to enforce those complaints. Once these complaints are sent to the commissioner, the authority does not know what happens to them. There is no duty on the police commissioner to inform the PCA of what happens.”
As it stands, the public has very little confidence in the power of the PCA to deal effectively and independently with matters involving the investigation of police officers.
It is NJAC’s view that whenever people believe that they are being denied justice and fair play—especially when this denial is based on historical prejudices, such as, where they live or which sector of the society that they come from—they conclude that the only way their voices can be heard, or their issues addressed, is through protest action.
This is what we have seen over the years, occurring in various communities. The present situation is but another instance.
This is what led to the development of the People’s Revolution of 1970.
NJAC believes that justice must not be seen to be the preserve of any selected group—but must be a right of every human being. In its absence, the trust and confidence of the people in the system is eroded. This opens the gates to public expressions of discontent in ways which may not always be seen as desirable.
This however, should not be seen as a war between the police and the people, but rather as a struggle for justice.