Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Family frustrated as four Westmoreland siblings locked up under SOE for three months

Published:Monday | September 9, 2019 | 5:55 PM
A soldier speaks with a motorist during an operation under the State of Public Emergency - File

Danae Hyman, Online Reporter

A Westmoreland family is growing frustrated with the justice system and is seeking answers as to why four siblings have been detained without charge for three months under the State of Public Emergency (SOE) in the western parish.

The four, Ricardo, William, Albert and Simone Augustus were picked up at their family home in Westmoreland under unknown suspicions.

Their eldest sister Suzette Allwood, said she has been stonewalled in her efforts to ascertain the reason for her siblings' detention.

“Dem don’t give we not one statement about them enuh, all them say is a under State of Emergency why them lock them up, no other information them nuh give,” Allwood told The Gleaner.

She said her brothers are being detained at the Frome Police Station in Westmoreland, while her sister is at the Falmouth Police Station in Trelawny.

According to Allwood, in early June, her siblings were drinking in their yard when Jamaica Defence Force soldiers came and arrested her brothers, left, and later came back for her sister.

According to her, the family has been left extremely confused as the police have not charged her brothers and sister only advising that the family retain a lawyer.

She said their detention has been a financial strain on the family, as they have to constantly bring medication to one of the brothers, who is still suffering from the effects of a gunshot wound.

Allwood is of the belief that her injured brother is not being given adequate medical care.

“My brother get shot from before and all a him tripe come out and them still have him in the lock-up. Every minute we affi a bring medication go down there and we really nuh have the money. Them say them don’t have a charge fi them, so why them have them up there so long?” she questioned.

A spokesperson for the Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force explained that if a detainee makes known his or her medical condition, treatment would be given based on the extent of the injury.

In the meantime, an official at the Westmoreland SOE Detention Centre told The Gleaner that a person may be detained for an extended period.

“From you are detained you are detained for a reason and it can be on the suspicion of anything. It could be murder, rape or anything… A person can be kept detained for up to 90 days or until the end of the State of Emergency. They are generally kept up to seven days but if the investigating officer needs more time he will request that time from the superintendent,” the official who asked to remain anonymous said.

Under the Emergency Powers Act, a person detained for seven days may be detained for a further seven days on the instruction of a deputy superintendent of police or a higher ranking officer.

However, this period may be extended to 90 days if the national security minister grants a detention order.

“There is no judge or lawyer that can come in and say they are signing an application for his release. If a person thinks they are not supposed to be locked up, we have a thing called the objection form they can fill that out with their lawyer and that form will be sent to Tribunal,” he said.

However, the Appeals Tribunal can only hear matters for which there is a detention order.

How to file an objection

* Objections should be in writing, provided and signed by the objector or by an attorney-at-law representing the objector.

* All objections must contain the full name of the objector, his/her address, date and place of detention, contact information for the objector’s attorney if one has been retained.

* The notice of objection form can be downloaded from the Ministry of National Security’s website at www.mns.gov.jm

* Objections are to be submitted to the Chairman of the Tribunal via email at westerntrib2019@gmail.com.

* Hearings of the Tribunal will be held at the Wexford Hotel in Montego Bay, St James   

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