Wed | Apr 26, 2017

Ganja reform no disrespect to Deane tragedy

Published:Wednesday | August 13, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Mario Deane

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The Gleaner of Saturday, August 9, 2014 published a letter from Renee Dillion arising from the recent tragic death of Mario Deane that made the valid point that the protection of the rights of persons held in state custody is the central issue arising from this awful incident.

That issue was specifically addressed by the minister of national security, whose portfolio includes lock-ups and prisons. His press release, issued on the same day as my own, confirmed that he is insisting that the commissioner immediately examine the arrangements for supervising detainees, to ensure the safety of those in the custody of the state.

Both our statements also affirmed that INDECOM was investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Deane's death, so that the law may take its course.

Mr Deane's detention arose from his arrest for possession of a ganja spliff. With the Government, having decided to decriminalise that offence, I considered it appropriate to indicate that pending the legislation required to enshrine that policy in law, the attorney general's advice has been sought on the proposed cessation of the practice of arresting and detaining persons found smoking or in possession of small quantities of ganja.

In addressing that matter, I was not seeking to detract from the central issue of protecting the rights of persons in state custody, which was squarely addressed in the minister of national security's contemporaneous press release.

MARK GOLDING

Minister of Justice