The Law Association of T&T (LATT) has criticised Police Commissioner Gary Griffith over his comments against attorneys, who represent people charged with heinous crimes.
In a press release issued yesterday, the association claimed Griffith “continues to attack” attorneys who do not refuse capital cases due to their code of ethics.
“Every citizen of T&T enjoys fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, including the right to be represented by an attorney-at-law. When the Commissioner of Police attacks this fundamental freedom for persons accused of crimes, he attacks the rights of every citizen of this country,” it said.
The association suggested that Griffith’s comments, made in response to its press release in relation to public outcry over violence against women, were designed to deflect attention away from matters under his purview including the receipt of complaints of criminal activity; the prompt and thorough investigation of such reports; the gathering, management and storage of evidence; the apprehension of suspects; and the participation of police officers in subsequent prosecutions.
“The Commissioner of Police has offered the public no assurances as to how the police service will better perform its functions in order to ensure a reduction in criminal activity, the speedy determination of criminal proceedings, and an increased conviction rate,” it said.
“Determining guilt is a matter for the Courts and, where applicable, juries. Sentencing is a matter for the Courts and not the police,” it added, as it noted that the T&T Police Service (TTPS) has to accept responsibility for its role in the criminal justice system and the low rate of convictions.
The association sought to address the deaths of two suspects in Andrea Bharrat’s death, who died while in police custody.
“The demise of these two suspects while in police custody means that there can be no charges laid against them, no trial, and no interrogation or determination of their guilt,” it said.
“The murder of Andrea Bharrat remains unsolved, and solving it may involve confronting and dealing with the fact that the dead suspects may not have been involved at all,” it added.
It suggested that Griffith should work with the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) on its investigation into the deaths of the suspects.
“The Commissioner of Police cannot separate citizen from creature for we are all created equal. We are all entitled to the protection of our Constitution and due process of law,” it said.
The recent discord between Griffith and the association stemmed from its release issued earlier this week in which it claimed that the denial of bail and the enforcement of the mandatory death penalty for murder would not have the touted effect on violent crime.
The association also denounced public attacks on attorneys who participate in capital cases.
Griffith, in response, accused the association of doing public relations work for the benefit of criminal clients.
“They speak of the unsolved murders, but conveniently ignore the many cold-blooded killers who they represent, who are presently on Death Row, who pay these same defence attorneys big money to get them freed, to cause more distress to law-abiding citizens,” Griffith said.