Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Tough task to fix operations at local lock-ups, says Government

Published:Tuesday | September 2, 2014 | 3:35 PM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The Government says it's facing significant challenges in its efforts to satisfy international human rights standards in the operation of Jamaica's lock-ups and correctional facilities.

The National Security Ministry made the admission in a statement this afternoon, while updating the country on the work of a committee formed in the aftermath of Mario Deane's controversial death in custody last month.

The committee was established on August 18, 12 days after Deane was brutally beaten under disputed circumstances at the Barnett Street lock-up in St James.

He was detained for possession of a ganja spliff.

The Office of the Prime Minister said the 20-member committee was tasked with developing a strategic response to the issue of treatment of persons in lock-ups and correctional facilities.

However, the National Security Ministry has now indicated that getting the job done is not going to be easy.

National Security Minister Peter Bunting listed three major hurdles he claims are affecting the work of the committee to bring Jamaica's detention system up to international standards.

The problems include what he calls outdated physical infrastructure of the lock-ups and prisons, inherited from when Jamaica was colony.

And he said human and financial resources available to supervise and operate lock-ups and prisons are woefully inadequate.

Added to the troubles of the committee are the cumbersome legal and administrative procedures governing the arrest, bail and oversight of persons in custody.

To get over the hurdles, Bunting said three working groups have been established within the committee to focus on each challenge.

The Independent Commission of Investigations, the Office of the Children's Advocate, and the Police Civilian Oversight Authority will each chair one of the working groups.

Bunting said each group would provide draft interim reports outlining their findings and recommendations by the end of September.

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