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AG: Cops must act on domestic abuse reports
The police are the first responders to domestic violence cases and they must take the matters seriously, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi made clear yesterday.
But everyone must also become their relatives’ keeper in T&T and if a family member is suffering domestic violence, “...You can’t say ‘that’s not my business’,”|Al-Rawi added.
Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, the AG advocated action and speaking out in order to help deal with the domestic violence problem.
On Wednesday, Anita Bahadur and Dexter Hospedales became the latest victims of domestic abuse when they were killed. Bahadur was the 14th woman killed for 2018 and eighth victim of a domestic violence-related matter.
Yesterday, Al-Rawi said a working group involving the Gender Affairs, National Security and his ministry, plus private sector stakeholders, had done much work to treat with the issue. This is documented in a study Cabinet examined yesterday. Among results so far is a 169-member police unit dedicated to dealing with domestic violence issues.
But Al-Rawi said when people find themselves at risk, they must step forward to police.
“You must consider if you want a protection order and obviously the police must take this situation seriously—they’re the first responders,” he said.
“They have the ability to summon social services workers and probation officers’ divisions. As we’ve seen in other areas, domestic violence incidents involve a knock on the door by a policeman —you see it on television.
“There’s no rational explanation why that doesn’t prevail here. In fact, that’s the obligation officers act in accordance with. Hence the Commissioner of Police has a role to play in ensuring police act upon reports—if you’re in a domestic violence situation or apprehend something’s happening, your first port of call is the police.”
He said people should no longer stay silent since they couldn’t get a protection order if they did.
Saying society has to band together on this and related issues, Al-Rawi noted that during debate on the Child Marriage Act, incidents of incest were discovered in a certain part of T&T. Al-Rawi said a proposed Sex Offenders Registry is now being discussed by his ministry.
Other approaches—legislative and otherwise—based on the ministry’s study will be aired shortly, he added.
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