(OBSERVER)Attorney-at-law Leon Chaku Symister has called on Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney to increase transparency regarding a number of extrajudicial killings committed by law enforcement officers.
This comes on the heels of the recent shooting death of a father-of-two, Mannie James, by law enforcement officers on the night of July 31 following a police chase.
James is one of at least 10 people who have been killed by law enforcement during the last nine years, beginning from 2014, according to Symister.
“We would want to hear from Commissioner Rodney as it relates to the killings of Mannie James and all those persons who were killed before him,” he said Tuesday on Observer AM.
An extrajudicial killing occurs when a person is deliberately killed without any legal process, by someone in an official position, according to the World Organisation Against Torture
Symister has also called on the Attorney General, Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin to update the public on the investigations regarding the incidents.
“As the chief law advisor to the government and as the minister responsible for the police, [he] should come to the public explaining what is happening in terms of an investigation of Mannie James and also the death of others,” he said.
The lawyer also called on all organisations — including the religious community and the Antigua and Barbuda Bar Association — to lend their voices on the issue to potentially deter future extrajudicial killings and increase accountability of existing incidents.
Pertaining to the protection of right to life, Cap 23, Section 4 (1) of the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution states: “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a crime of treason or murder of which he has been convicted.”
Additional circumstances are listed in Section 4 (2), of which none are applicable to any of the extrajudicial killings, Symister indicated.
“It goes on in section 4 (2) to identify some of the circumstances under which a person’s life may be taken without it being in violation of our Constitution. But none of these extrajudicial killings that we have seen between 2014 and the 31 of July, fall under those exceptions,” he stated.
“The circumstances listed in Cap 23, Section 4 (2) are: (a) for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property; (b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; and (c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or (d) in order lawfully to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence, or if he dies as the result of a lawful act of war,” he said.