Letter of the Day: What cogent reasons justified the 11-day detention, C-TOC?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am disturbed and overcome with consternation by the events and actions of the Surinamese authorities and the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime (C-TOC) Branch, which led to the search, arrest and detention of a 16-year-old boy from St Mary, on suspicions of joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The Surinamese authorities deported the 16-year-old because they 'suspected' that he was transiting through The Netherlands, then to Turkey, to join ISIS, but have not stated any logical grounds to have arrived at such a determination, insofar as news reports are concerned.
It was reported in another local media source that the Surinamese authorities said, "It sends a clear signal that Suriname is doing everything so the region does not become involved in terrorism." How does an attempt to enter the United Kingdom illegally, which is an immigration matter, and which should be dealt with by the authorities, accord with the act of terrorism in ISIS, without more?
What, if any, apparent facts did the personnel from C-TOC discover during their probe, which justified the boy's search, arrest and taking away his liberty? Reports are that a Qu'ran, Islam's religious text was found in the boy's home. Was that discovery relevant and sufficient for his arrest and protracted detention?
How is it possible that he apparently went through our local immigration procedures and no suspicions were raised, but a different opinion was arrived at in another country? Does that not raise questions about our surveillance mechanism?
Are Jamaican citizens now liable for this unreasonable and lengthy detention and discrimination, on suspicion of joining ISIS, if they appreciate other religious practices and are found in possession of religious texts that are not the Bible?
Justice Bryan Sykes stated, "The European court of justice formulated the criteria against the backdrop that liberty is the normative position, and his detention has to be justified by those who would deny him his human right ... . Subject to any legislation to the contrary, a person is entitled to his liberty, unless the State can show relevant and sufficient reasons to justify the continued detention of the person."
Justice Sykes further opined: "... The liberty of the subject is such a fundamental right that the framers of the Constitution thought that it should not be left to implication but rather should be expressly protected. .... The fact that the right has received the highest level of protection possible in a legal system, which is located in a constitutional democracy with a written constitution, then any derogation from such a high-ranking right must be justified by very, very cogent reasons ... ."
It is quite strange how the C-TOC personnel dealt with this matter, especially since the boy apparently went through our port incident-free and managed to arrive at the Johan Adolf Pengel Airport in Suriname.
Those actions have grave implications for our constitutional rights and for our democracy, and the local authorities must be accountable and transparent and supply full disclosure on this matter, with emphasis on the cogent reasons for taking away the boy's liberty for 11 days. The boy's father should seek compensation through a lawsuit against the State.