Tue | Mar 26, 2019

Justice minister apologises to St James SOE detainees

Published:Friday | November 30, 2018 | 12:00 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck

WESTERN BUREAU:

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has issued an apology to the more than 4,000 detainees, many of whom were freed without charge, for the horrible conditions under which they were housed in the early days of the ongoing state of public emergency in St James.

"We have to apologise to some of these persons who were detained in unfortunate conditions," said Chuck, while addressing a training and sensitisation session for justices of the peace in the parish on Wednesday.

"The truth of the matter is that most of our detentions, our jails, are in awful condition. Those of you who have to visit the police stations and the lock-ups see that these need serious improvement."

The justice minister also noted that he was so ashamed of some of the holding areas in which persons were kept that he ordered that they be rehabilitated to a standard befitting human habitation.

"I am now instructing my ministry that all these holding areas must not only be fixed, but they must also be retrofitted with air-condition units, and the toilet facilities must be at a high standard that if I need to use it when I visit there, I can use it," said Chuck.

"When I go and I see some of the toilet conditions in these holding areas, they are appalling."

The Government is now on a drive, with funding from the National Housing Trust, to refurbish all police stations across the island.

In speaking to the current situation at the detention centres, the justice minister said that the Government had not received any reports as it related to persons' human rights being abused.

"The abuse, if there is any, is not in the picking up, or taking off the streets, and the checking of persons who are being detained, but it's the conditions in which they are being kept, which is unfortunate," said Chuck. "What is clear is that having been detained, not many of them remained detained for more than 24 hours because once they are checked out, they are released."

Chuck also noted that commanders have been instructed to respect the human rights of detainees as much as possible.