Police brutality still rampant, court told

National, Normal


THE prevalence of police brutality has raised concerns and the National and Supreme courts are looking into setting up a “human rights track” within the court system to deal specifically on matters of police brutality and abuse of citizens.
The track or committee, to be headed by Justice David Cannings, hopes to start hearing complaints of abuse by rogue members of the police force next year.
Cannings made this remark while presiding over a case of alleged human rights abuse by police in Tari, Southern Highlands, in July.
The National Court on its initiative instituted the proceedings and invited the Public Solicitors office, the Ombudsman Commission and the police force to be parties to the proceedings.
Yesterday’s mention was for the court to give directions to proceed with the hearing at the next mention date and both the plaintiffs and the defendants to file and serve the required court documents before returning to court next month.
“This is an unusual matter, commenced on the initiative of the National Court that I will hear. Now that the matter has been converted into an action as the plaintiffs and the defendants in the matter are identified.”
The public solicitor told the judge of the difficulty faced in obtaining the names of the police officers involved because the police commissioner did not respond to their request despite several attempts to get the names.
The judge directed the lawyer representing Police Commissioner Gari Baki to work together with the public solicitor and provide the names of the police officers in Tari who were involved in the human rights abuse of the plaintiffs.
He suggested to the public solicitor to “summon the commissioner to come before the court and provide the names of the police officers” in the newspaper.
“Make sure this does not become another default judgment against the state,” he told Baki’s lawyer.
The case rose from the conduct of policemen stationed at Tari around July this year, who stripped naked three alleged members of a gang which terrorised motorists near the Ambua, Tari Gap.
The gang on July 19 had held up a vehicle and robbed the passengers.
Villagers then mobilised and tracked down the gang, apprehended three of the members and called the Tari-based mobile squad to pick the suspects up.
The three suspects, now the plaintiffs were further assaulted by the police personnel who came to pick them up.
The plaintiffs were ordered at gun point to strip naked, their hands and legs tied together to a stick that was placed in the bumpers and bonnets of three 10-seater vehicles and were driven through Tari station with the suspects seated on the bonnets of the vehicles.