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Wednesday 17 January 2018
Letters to the Editor

Arrested people also have rights

THE EDITOR: I am becoming increasingly concerned about two issues emanating from our Police Service, both of which are contrary to the United Nations Charter on the rights of people arrested and taken into police custody, to which TT is a signature.

1. The emerging and shameful act of placing arrested individuals in the trunk of police SUVs when being transported, at times two to three accused crammed in limited space while handcuffed and patently quite uncomfortable.

2. In reporting on the recapture of fraud accused Vicki Boodram, a newspaper listed people of interest as being placed in various police stations including Barataria, Belmont, Besson Street, Central, Penal etc. This has been the long and unconscionable practice of our police brazenly housing arrested people in stations for extended periods of up to ten days when such facilities are not equipped to provide the humanely required accommodations like bedding, male and female toilets and showers, kitchen, meals etc.

Following those traumatic periods many of those arrested have complained about cells reeking of urine, of sleeping on cold and dirty concrete floors, of overcrowded cells, overflowing toilets, insufficient and poor quality food, no change of clothing for days, refusal to contact or have their attorney present, limited or no medical attention when necessary, mental and physical abuse at the hands of their captors, and, sadly, forced confessions to attain convictions.

A police station is for interrogating and processing an accused on determination by officers of a prima facie case, all within a reasonable period of time. Once charged, detainees should not be unreasonably kept in stations, or on weekends and public holidays awaiting court appearance, but ought to be transferred to a humanely suitable jail and provided with clean bed, shower and proper meals as they await their day in court, at which time bail may be granted.

Further, all citizens have a right to liberty and security of person, and to free movement devoid of arbitrary or vexatious arrest. Importantly, the arrested person also has a right to be treated courteously and informed not only of the reason for their arrest but also advised of their inherent rights while detained, inclusive of their right to have an attorney present during interrogation, and the right not to confess or even testify against themselves.

And should they not speak our language they also have a right to an interpreter.

TREVOR HOSTEN via e-mail

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Letters to the Editor