President of the Association of Funeral Professionals of Trinidad and Tobago Keith Belgrove is calling on the police to investigate video footage of bodies being dumped at a cemetery without caskets and with little care.
Last Friday a video was circulated on WhatsApp where bodies covered in sheets were thrown into what appeared to be a single grave. The people dumping them are believed to be funeral home workers.
Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday, Belgrove said he was unsettled by the footage and chided whichever funeral home was involved for being irresponsible.
"When I called around to other colleagues to find out more, they told me this was going on for a long time.
"I am assuming this was the Carapo Cemetery, but it was totally unacceptable to see the bodies being handled with no care or dignity.
"I don't know who these people are or which funeral home they represent, but operators who do things like this don't belong in our industry."
He also said, based on the footage, the funeral home may be in breach of the Burial Grounds Act, which stipulates that bodies must be given a grave of their own and placed in a proper receptacle (coffin).
Belgrove also said people who have not been identified by relatives are given "paupers' burials" but even in these circumstances they should be given coffins.
During a virtual media conference last Thursday on the responsibilities of funeral homes during the pandemic, Belgrove said a draft document by the Ministry of Legal Affairs was in the works which would better regulate the activities of funeral agencies.
He said the video footage was evidence of the need for such legislation and asked the ministry to expedite the process.
"We understand the many demands of the ministry at this time but, respectfully, we would like to see the document completed as soon as possible to prevent things like this from happening in the future.
"Funeral homes that do things like this should not only lose their contracts – they must leave the industry altogether."
Arima police confirmed an investigation has been launched into the video.