Sun | Sep 15, 2019

Sued for SOE arrest - St James man seeks redress from Gov't over breaches of constitutional rights

Published:Thursday | January 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Relatives of detainees under the state of public emergency stand outside one of the detention camps at the Freeport Police Station in St James last year.

A St James resident has taken legal action against the Government, seeking compensation for damages resulting from what he describes as false imprisonment and breaches of his constitutional rights while detained under the state of public emergency (SOE) in the parish.

In a fix date claim form and supporting affidavit obtained by The Gleaner, the claimant, Roshaine Clarke, 26, who is a taxi operator in the parish, said he was arrested and detained on February 18, 2018, and spent just over seven months in custody, having been released on or around September 27 of the same year.

He is seeking a declaration from the Supreme Court that the Emergency Powers Regulations 2018 governing the St James SOE breached his rights guaranteed under the Constitution such as the right to liberty, to be informed at the time of his detention of the reason for his arrest, and to be brought before a court as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Clarke also wants the court to declare that the extensions of the SOE in the parish were not justified for the respective periods ending May 2, 2018, August 2, 2018, November 1, 2018, and January 31, 2019.

He argues that the conditions under which the extensions were obtained are unconstitutional and that the circumstances that may have warranted the SOE when it was declared on January 18, 2018, did not exist after the first extension.




According to his affidavit, Clarke was also ill and suffering from haemorrhoids while in detention and missed two appointments for surgery. It added that the security forces were aware of his appointments but failed to exercise due care in ensuring that he was taken to the relevant health facility to undergo medical treatment.

The document also stated that his condition was further exacerbated as he was denied nutritional supplements needed to aid in his illness.

Clarke wants relief for damages to include aggravated damages, exemplary damages, and constitutional/vindicatory damages.

The claim was filed earlier this week by the Montego Bay-based law firm Clayton Morgan and Company, with the attorney general named as the defendant.

A date has not yet been set for the matter.

Since the SOE was declared, over 4,000 individuals have been detained, many of whom were freed without charge.




Clarke is seeking the following relief from the Supreme Court:

- A declaration that each provision of the Emergency Powers Regulations 2018 breached his guaranteed constitutional right(s) set out in the Constitution.

- A declaration that infringement of his constitutional rights was not demonstrably, or alternatively, reasonably justified when he was detained on February 14, 2018, and not given a hearing for his objection to be heard until June 11, 2018, with no charges being proffered against him and no meritorious reason(s) given for his continued detention.

- A declaration that the extraordinary powers granted to the National Security Minister by Section 33 of Emergency Powers Regulations constitute a breach.

- A declaration that the breaches of his constitutional rights were not demonstrably, or alternatively, reasonably justified when the Government obtained extensions for the SOE.

- Compensation for damages for false imprisonment and breaches of his constitutional rights.

- Compensation for other costs.