Lack of detention orders unreasonable, says attorney
Stacy-Ann Young, the president of the Cornwall Bar Association, has criticised the Ministry of National Security for failing to sign several detention orders, which she said would speed up the ongoing tribunal on behalf of detainees held during the state of public emergency in St James.
Young told The Gleaner yesterday that of the 60 persons now in custody under the state of emergency, which was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on January 18, Twenty-two detainees have not had any detention orders signed for them to appear before the tribunal.
"For the 22 persons that are supposed to be at the tribunal for the objections to be heard, none of them have detention orders because the minister has not signed any at all," said Young. "The attorney for the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) indicated that he had applied for 20 orders and, to date, he has not received even one detention order from the minister.
"It is completely unreasonable for the minister of national Security to have been given applications from the JCF for over two months to sign detention orders that pertain to persons being in custody under the state of emergency, and he has not given any response at all," added Young.
Following the announcement of the state of emergency in St James, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck announced the establishment of the tribunal to hear appeals from persons affected by the state of emergency. Retired Supreme Court judge Justice Lloyd Hibbert, attorney-at-law Ian Wilkinson, and Pastor David Henry were subsequently named as the members of the tribunal.
In speaking further on the need for the detention orders, Young stressed that the tribunal would be obsolete without them.
"If it is that they do not sign these detention orders, it would almost make the tribunal defunct. On the face of it, the regulations (Emergency Powers Regulations of 2018) do not give the tribunal the power to hear any matters without detention orders," said Young.
More than 780 persons have been detained and processed under the state of emergency, which has resulted in a significant reduction in major crimes in St James.