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Law Association condemns military patrols without police cooperation

by | Jul 22, 2014

NEWS GRAPHIC 3The Law Association has commented on reports of soldiers carrying out operations on their own.

Describing the action as illegal the Law Association broke its silence on the issue.

In a media statement the Association revealed that the actions of soldiers in the field could only be lawful if they were complying with the instructions of a police officer.

It called for the rules on such exercises to be clearly laid out and for alleged abuses by soldiers to be investigated.

Last week acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams stated that rogue soldiers could be arrested and charged.

He stated that he did not request soldier patrols independent of the police

Williams added that soldiers were not authorized to search and exercise police powers.

However Nation Security Minister Gary Griffith stated that there was nothing illegal in a patrol independent of police officers but acknowledged the concerns about the need for a police presence in cases where arrests and searches of homes and vehicles were required.

After the murder of Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas on June 29, soldiers from Camp Ogden were deployed in the crime hotspots of Laventille and east Port-of-Spain and also carried out operations in Toco, Champs Fleurs and Couva in search of a man they reportedly said was a suspect.

The Law Association statement, signed by its president Seenath Jairam, said although he supported any and all legitimate efforts to combat the surge of crime such efforts had to be conducted within the confines of laws of T&T and with due respect for the rule of law and the constitutional rights of persons.

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