Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Police, please return cell phones

Published:Saturday | February 16, 2019 | 12:19 AM


The power of the police to take the property of the suspects “in pursuit of investigations” is well known.

The right of the suspect to have his property returned where that property is not connected to the commission of any crime is equally recognised by law.

It is now routine that the cell phones of suspects are at the top of the list of property taken by the police at the time of arrest. They often inform the suspect that these phones are taken to facilitate forensic examination.

Serious challenge

Attorneys have been having serious challenges to recover, on their client’s behalf, cell phones taken from their client.

I call upon the commissioner of police to issue strict instructions regarding the detention and release of cell phones to citizens where they are taken in connection with investigations.

Too many of our clients, following on acquittal or even conviction where the phone played no part in the offence and where no court has ordered its confiscation, have been unable to retrieve their phones.

Phones are the repository of information, which when taken seriously, inconveniences the life of citizens.

It is one thing to have lost your phone. It is a totally different case where it is taken by those sworn to uphold the law.

This issue may seem trivial to some of us, however, when a person fails to have his property returned to him, that failure is a violation of his right to property, privacy, and due process.