Human Rights campaigner, Mary Francis, has called for a speedy investigation into the fatal police shooting of an alleged bandit recently.
Simeon Joseph of Balata was shot dead on Friday night when he and two other men allegedly attempted to rob a Special Police Constable who was in plain clothes in George V Park.
Mary Francis, who is the Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights, told the Times that it was important to have systems in place to ensure transparency and accountability when citizens die at the hands of the police.
The Attorney at Law told the Times it was important to avoid the mistakes of the past.
She explained that she was aware of media reports indicating that the George V Park shooting was being investigated by the police.
“So far so good, but it has to go on to the DPP who would then make the final decision as to whether an inquest would follow or there will be criminal prosecution – but my concern has always been the time factor and the delay sometimes in getting this process to be completed,” Francis stated.
She observed that over the years the process takes such a long time that the six month window of opportunity which citizens have to sue the state for wrongdoing elapses before the police conclude their investigation.
Francis recalled that she had written to the authorities regarding the limitation period which she feels is ‘antiquated’.
“There is a six month limitation period for suing the state – six months from the date of the incident,” the Attorney at Law observed.
She said she had a meeting last year with the Minister of Justice and urged that the period be lengthened to at least 18 months.
Francis asserted that there is a fundamental rights provision in the constitution which guarantees everyone a right to a fair hearing in a civil or criminal matter before an independent court within a reasonable time.
“How can you then say you can have access to justice for your cause against the state when you have just a short period of six months?” She said.
The Human Rights official declared that such a provision in effect denies access to justice.
She called for it to be reviewed.
Miranda Job, the sister of Simeon Joseph who was fatally shot in George V Park, told reporters that her brother did not deserve to die that way.
Job said members of the family will be exploring legal options after the funeral.