James’ death marks ninth police killing in nine years, Symister notes, and needs an inquiry by int’l human-rights commission

The United Progressive Party (UPP) is calling for a transparent and
fair investigation into the extra-judicial killing of Bendals resident
Mannie James. 

Leon Chaku Symister, the Party’s spokesperson on legal matters,
says that James is reportedly the ninth person to have been killed by
the Police over a nine-year period, that is, since 2014. And from a
public standpoint, Symister says, there has not been any
investigations into these killings or any subsequent findings.

James, a 45-year-old father of two, was shot in the back by law-
enforcement officers following a high-speed chase from one side of
the island into the Grays Farm community. 

Having not being present, Symister says, neither he nor the Party is
not in a position to say whether the killing of James was justified. 
But, on the face of it, and since James was shot in the back while
running away, the attorney says there is no way this could be a
justifiable killing by lawmen.

Accordingly, the UPP spokesman says the Party is calling for a fair,
impartial and transparent investigation by the Police and for the
findings to be made public.

Symister notes that Antigua and Barbuda is a signatory to several
treaties and member of commissions, including the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, which is a body charged with
independently investigating this sort of killing.

While Antigua is a member of this international body, Symister
observes, it has never been called upon to investigate such extra-
judicial killings – even though the deputy governor-general, Sir Clare
Roberts, chaired the organization for a time.

Sir Clare, he says, sat in hearings related to such investigations in
other jurisdictions; and, yet, ironically, no such probe has ever been
undertaken in Antigua and Barbuda where, in nine years, nine
similar killings have taken place.

The UPP spokesperson says it is not for the Police alone to
investigate what happened in this latest instance. Rather, Antigua
and Barbuda must inform the Commission of the incident, and that
body will conduct an investigation into what transpired. 

While any individual may write to the body, asking for its
intervention if the Government fails to do so, Symister says it might
not trigger the Commission’s response, since these treaties are
usually based on government-to-government interaction.

The attorney says this issue was raised with him just days ago, and
he has begun research to see which channels, outside of
government, can be utilised.

According to Symister, the Nation cannot continue to foster a society
in which the Police, in whatever circumstances, can take the life of a
citizen without consequences.

He acknowledges that the UPP is not in the position to make any
judgment at this time – and none is being made. Rather, the Party is
simply asking for an investigation of a particular calibre.

Meanwhile, the Police have said that its investigations will be
conducted in accordance with the Coroners Act and will be
undertaken in a transparent and fair manner.