Mon | Jul 22, 2019

Holness: We could have done better in St James

Published:Sunday | December 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMAlbert Ferguson

WESTERN BUREAU:

In St James, Prime Minister Andrew Holness admitted that more could have been done to improve the conditions of holding facilities at the Freeport Police Station where detainees are being held under the state of emergency (SOE).

"So far, we have seen facilities that are generally up to standard, but clearly, we could and should do more to improve the standards," Holness told journalists after a tour of the detention facility in Montego Bay yesterday.

"So the objective of my visit is to see what else we could do to improve conditions," added Holness.

He said one of the reasons he decided to go on tour of the facilities was "to ensure that those who are in custody are being treated appropriately. We decided that we should do an inspection of the facilities and that we review the systems that are used to process them, to ensure that their rights are maintained."

Holness further noted that touring the detention facilities will help to ensure that detainees are being treated with dignity, and that the systems work to get them out of detention as quickly as possible.

The SOE detention facility in St James was the subject of strong criticisms from Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry, who told Parliament that the detainees were being held in deplorable conditions.

The police have accepted that there were issues as the start of the SOE, but they argued that the conditions were much improved before the public defender submitted her report.