Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Legal aid lawyers line up to defend state of emergency detainees

Published:Tuesday | January 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
A policeman conducts a search of a motorist while members of the Jamaica Defence Force look on last Friday in Flankers, St James, as part of the public state of emergency operations.

The Legal Aid Council, in collaboration with Cornwall Bar Association, is to make available 19 counsel, including six senior lawyers, to provide representation for detainees under the current public state of emergency covering St James.

Executive director of the council, Hugh Faulkner, said that no citizen of Jamaica should be denied legal representation and protection, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

"Our lawyers started going into St James today (yesterday). The fact that there is a state of public emergency in place does not mean that persons should be denied the right to legal representation," stated Faulkner.

The Legal Aid Council is a department of the Ministry of Justice and makes representations for Jamaicans in excess of 5,000 cases each year, once the person is arrested goes through to court proceedings. It also sees over 3,000 persons on average in need of consultation services per year.

Faulkner said that it was important to stress the relevance of the legal aid services in extraordinary cases such as the state of emergency, as it plays a vital role in the national justice apparatus.

"It is a very important organ of the justice system, and in special cases such as this, where people will be in need of legal counsel and representation, our job is to be there and be ready to assist at moment's notice," he said.

A public state of emergency was declared for St James on January 18, in an attempt to arrest ongoing gang violence, which has so far claimed 11 lives since the start of the year, including one man who was gunned down at a funeral in the parish on Saturday.

Residents of St James who have been detained may contact the Montego Bay Legal Aid Clinic, at 42B Union Street,

St James, or 952-2183, or they may call the Cornwall Bar Association at 940-1960.

Persons may also visit the Instagram and Facebook pages of the Cornwall Bar Association for a list of the lawyers.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com