According to Ganesh Hira, Attorney-at-Law in a segment of a Kaieteur Radio programme on Tuesday evening, it is required in procedure of arresting suspects to verbalize the caution.
Hira highlighted that an individual can only be arrested if the police has information that the said individual has committed an offence.
The attorney explained that the first step of the police is to inform the suspect about the allegation. He stated that the purpose is to communicate to the suspect about the offence committed in a language that he (the suspect) would understand. He noted that once the police state the allegation to the individual to be arrested, they should then caution him/her.
He added, “They need to tell you that you are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so, and whatever you say may be put into writing and given in evidence. That is the exact words of the caution.”
Hira stated that often times the police does not caution the suspected individual at the prescribed time for reasons that the suspect would relate his knowledge of the committed offence, and as such incriminate himself.
When asked about the criteria for making an arrest, the attorney responded that someone can only be arrested when the police has reasonable suspicion that the individual had committed, is in the process committing or is about to commit an offence. Earlier in the programme he defined reasonable suspicion as an objective test that it is to be determined from the circumstances that are present.
The attorney also said that the caution being stated to the suspect should be explained in order for him to understand the nature of it. He added that the suspect should be told before questioning of his right to have an attorney, a relative or a friend present during the period of time of interrogation. He further stated that it should be explained to the suspect of the reason for having an attorney present. He added that the reason for the attorney being present is to give advice on the options of answering certain questions or whether the suspect should give a statement in the first place.
Hira disclosed that a suspect has the right to refuse to give a statement, since this is mentioned in the caution.
In the case of an arrested suspect being unable to afford an attorney, he can exercise his right to remain silent or he can seek Legal Aid which has a small fee attached, the attorney said.
Hira explained that it was found that accused suspects who were not cautioned or told of their rights revealed in evidence that the police did not caution the individual. He contrasted that there are times when the police cautioned an individual and he would have co-operated and had given a statement.
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