The Malta Independent 10 December 2022, Saturday
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TMID Editorial: The actions of a few could impact many

Friday, 18 November 2022, 12:20 Last update: about 21 days ago

The actions of a few people in uniform can impact many.

The video of two Transport Malta officials punching a man who was face-down on the ground was shocking to say the least. A police investigation into the matter has been launched, and rightly so. Prime Minister Robert Abela deplored the incident and called it “disgusting” and “unacceptable.” Both officials were suspended, and an internal Transport Malta investigation is also underway, he said.

The fact that the authorities are taking this incident seriously is, in itself, good news.  Now justice will need to take its course.

But one cannot help but note that Malta has had two shocking cases by enforcement officials emerge within the space of two months.

Here, one must make reference to the case of three police officers who are facing charges of kidnapping, abuse of authority, illegal arrest, holding a person against his will, two counts of attempted grievous bodily harm and two counts of causing slight injury, the bodily harm charges being aggravated by racial motives. They are pleading not guilty. Just yesterday in court it was alleged that a fourth police officer was involved. Investigations into this must take place.

We will not go into the merits of the case given that a court case is ongoing, and they are innocent until proven guilty.

But these kinds of situations cast a shadow over other enforcement officers. The majority of enforcement officers are good people, going about their daily lives and trying to protect the wider public, and when such allegations or videos emerge, it could impact all of them.

People with enforcement powers must keep in mind that they are not just representing themselves, but also their colleagues. The danger with such situations is that it could damage trust in the rest of the enforcement units in question.

Inspector Mark Cremona, who is in charge of Community Policing in the Southern District, told The Malta Independent on Sunday that the allegations regarding the three officers does affect trust in the police. 

He said that presently, the police are collaborating with the human rights directorate to provide specific training in this regard. Training and education are two extremely important factors to avoid such instances or allegations in the future. 

All enforcement officials should be better trained on how to handle people, how to keep calm, and how to act and not to act. 

Thankfully, nowadays people have technology that is easily available that would help keep those in power in check. It is easy for someone to pull out a phone and film an incident should they believe an officer is abusing their power. This is what happened in the recent Transport Malta case. 

The effectiveness of any enforcement authority is based on trust. If people lose trust in them, then they become less effective, less respected, which in turn would cause problems for the many enforcement officers out there who are just doing a good job.

 

 

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