January 18, 2019 – The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) has received the judgment of the Court of Appeal, today (January 18), dismissing the appeal of the eight officers. They were convicted for breach of the INDECOM Act by failing to provide statements and answer questions when required to do so.
On September 1, 2010, INDECOM issued Notices, pursuant to Section 21 of the INDECOM Act, for eight officers to attend the offices of the Commission on September 14, 2010. The officers were required to bring statements and answer questions regarding the fatal shooting of two men. The Notices were disobeyed and the officers were charged. They were convicted on July 28, 2014 and sentenced to pay $650,000 or serve six months imprisonment.
The compliance with Notices requiring members of the Security Forces and Agents of the State to answer questions and provide timely statements has improved since these eight officers were charged and convicted. This ruling by the Court of Appeal reiterates the importance of obeying lawful requests of the Commission. On matters of use of force it is even more critical for concerned officers to give early and truthful accounts of their actions. Three day delays in getting accounts have been criticized by international courts.
In this matter, the lawyers of some of the eight officers had sought to adjourn the interviews, but this was not permitted by the Commission. The Appellants argued that this meant that they were denied their right to Counsel. The Court of Appeal disagreed pointing out that, that right, refers to persons detained or charged.
INDECOM will always accede to requests for the adjournment of interviews with officers who are considered as suspects under the Judge’s Rule, as these are voluntary interviews. However, Section 21 interviews with officers need to be done in a timely manner to prevent collusion and delays to the investigation.