Checks and balances
– Police Complaints Authority ensuring no on is above the law
DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Checks and balances are important to any democratic society; that is ensuring that no one is above the law. This is especially important to members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) who are tasked with enforcing and ensuring citizens uphold the law.
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is responsible for receiving complaints of specific cases of misconduct by members of the Police Force. This includes supervising the investigation of certain serious crimes alleged to have been committed by members of the Police Force. The authority fosters greater public trust in the force by ensuring it is in conformity with human rights including the right to life and liberty.
In 2018 alone, the Police Complaints Authority received a total of 513 complaints against members of the force. This was disclosed by Justice William Ramlall, Chairman of the PCA during an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI).
Of the 513 complaints made, 159 were rejected, 276 are closed, 98 pending investigation and five referred to the Police Service Commission or the Police Disciplinary Authority for advice.
Justice Ramlall said that when someone makes a complaint, they are interviewed almost immediately by one of the eight investigators of the authority. He said that a statement is taken and acted upon once there is merit to the complaint being made. This is necessary since many times persons were found to have made false reports against officers. Justice Ramlall called on persons to desist from doing this.
Some of the areas a complaint can be lodged against an officer include neglect of duty, assault, unlawful arrest, unlawful stop and search among others. Once a matter is investigated and the officer is found guilty, penalties are suggested to be handed down by the authority. This prevents the officer from getting a slap on the wrist for their misconduct.
Last September, Justice Ramlall was sworn in by President David Granger as Chairman of the PCA. He has since been working assiduously to ensure that citizens have fair access to justice.
“The authority is a critical link between the police and the public. It provides a means through which the public can have its grievances and police malpractices addressed in an impartial manner by an independent person,” President David Granger noted during the swearing in ceremony.
Image: Department of Public Information.