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INDECOM reports 47.3% decrease in fatalities for first quarter

Police killings drop

Thursday, April 17, 2014    

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THE Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has reported a sharp decrease in the number of extrajudicial killings by members of the security forces for the first quarter of the year.

At the same time, the investigative body said it has recommended that 16 police officers be slapped with criminal charges, including murder, for the same period.

INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams commented on the decrease in the fatal shootings in a release announcing the figures.

"We are certainly encouraged by these figures and we hope that the number will continue on a downward trajectory going forward," Williams said. "It is particularly refreshing given the report of the general decline in crime during this period."

At the end of the first quarter, the commission recorded a total of 40 fatalities. This is 36 less than the first-quarter figures of 2013 in which 76 fatalities were recorded, and represents a 47.3 per cent drop in the number of fatalities, according to the INDECOM release.

In January 2014 the commission recorded 22 fatalities, down from the 30 recorded in January last year, a 26.6 per cent decrease; while in February 14 fatalities were recorded, down from 27 in 2013 which is a 48.1 per cent decrease. For the month of March, the commission recorded four fatalities, the lowest in the history of the commission, which was formed in 2010.

Last year 19 fatalities were recorded in March, which represents a decrease of 78.9 per cent.

In the first quarter of the last three years the figures showed a steady increase. In 2011, the commission recorded 60 fatalities; the following year this figure increased to 66, representing a 9 per cent increase, and in 2013, 76 fatalities were recorded. This represented a 15 per cent increase.

Meanwhile, the investigative body said that it completed 88 reports for the quarter and that of that number, 16 police officers were recommended for criminal charges.

Among the charges recommended are murder, wounding with intent and assault occasioning bodily harm.

In some instances, the commission recommended that, disciplinary action be taken against the concerned officers, while Coroner's Inquests were recommended for seven matters. In 14 cases, the commission recommended that civil remedies be pursued.

The INDECOM found 38 complaints to be unsubstantiated. The body sought to clarify the "unsubstantiated" classification.

"It is important to note that the term 'unsubstantiated' does not automatically mean that the state agent acted properly as several factors can render a matter unsubstantiated," it said. "The major and most frequent factors include insufficient evidence; poor identification..., meaning complainant was unable to positively identify the concerned officer; and an unwillingness of the complainant and or witnesses to provide written statements."

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