Entornointeligente.com / Some of the protesting bus drivers Attorney Joshua Francis is appealing to police officers to uphold and enforce the law impartially.
Francis spoke in the wake of a recent one-day protest action taken by bus drivers in Dominica where one protester was injured by a rubber bullet and another was beaten by several police officers.
The bus operators said their action was to force the government to provide “much-needed assistance” because of the financial impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the negative impact of the recent rise in the price of fuel on their trade.
“Of course, the functions of police is very wide; they have investigative functions. If there is a crime, they are responsible to investigate. Based on their investigations, they will determine whether to make an arrest or not,” Francis said. “They are to uphold and enforce the law; it must be done impartially.”
However, he said sometimes, one gets the impression that some police officers are there to protect the system or the status quo and they don’t realize they have a responsibility to the citizen.
Francis suggests that the police must weigh their responsibilities between the citizens and the state where there is a conflict.
“You cannot just take it on your own and say you are going to protect the state at the expense of the citizen, because the citizen has rights and that is why there are questions of human rights violation,” the lawyer stated.
He believes there is need to take stock and inventory of police behavior in Dominica.
“People don’t really take matters before the court abundantly as in some other jurisdictions and hence, police officers think they can get away,” Francis said.
However, according to the attorney, more and more people are becoming aware of their rights and, “we will see the increase in numbers as far as litigation is concerned, so that police officers will be reminded that they have a responsibility.”
Likewise, Francis pointed out, citizens must be reminded that they have a responsibility for peace and order.
He said he understands why police officers would be concerned about the roads being blocked, because if protestors blocked the roads, clearly, they would be violating traffic laws but he pointed out that universally, when people protest such things are expected to happen to get the attention of the state.
“That is why they are called protests and strikes,” he argued. “And as such, police officers must be discreet.”
Francis insists that blocking of roads does not justify a police officer beating on a citizen especially where that person is unarmed.
The citizen was identified as Esrom George, who has said that he is contemplating taking legal action against the police officers who assaulted him.
LINK ORIGINAL: Dominica News Online