Letter: Police too powerful

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The Independent Culture
Sir: You report (5 June) that the Crown Prosecution Service, after a "fresh review" of the case in which the Nigerian asylum-seeker Shiji Lapite died after being arrested by the police, has decided not to prosecute any police officers.

To enable your readers to understand how Black people see such decisions, please allow me take them on an imaginary journey. A 34-year-old healthy, White Briton, is picked up by the Nigerian police on a Lagos street in the wee hours of the morning. He is swaying as he walks and is suspected of being drunk, though he has not committed any act of disorderly conduct. He does not agree to be arrested, as he has done nothing wrong, in his own view. Five Nigerian policemen then place him in a neck-lock and use their batons to effect his arrest. They drive him to a police station. He is later found to be dead.

The Nigerian Ministry of Justice decides that no one should be prosecuted, because five Nigerian pathologists cannot agree on the exact cause of his death.

The laudable concern shown for British citizens who run into trouble abroad compares ill with the relative indifference of the same public and media to the fate of Blacks here. Such hypocrisy undermines the widely held notion that Britain is a liberal, civilised country whose example should be a shining light to Commonwealth and other countries that routinely abuse human rights.