Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Detainees must be safe in custody

Published:Saturday | August 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Reports oN 31-year-old Mario Deane, who was beaten while in police custody on Sunday, became even more pervasive on social media Thursday when news came that he died. I am certain everyone anticipated the views of the Government, specifically the views of Justice Minister Mark Golding.

Minister Golding said that he was saddened by Deane's death, and I am equally, or even more, saddened by what he chose to highlight, given the nature of the matter. The minister spoke about the consideration of the police not arresting persons held with small amounts of marijuana with pending legislation to decriminalise such actions. I am taken aback and greatly disappointed that he honestly thinks marijuana is the issue here.

The real issue is ensuring the safety of individuals in police custody. Police custody should not be a death trap.

So what if marijuana possession is decriminalised? Does it then follow that persons in custody will not be beaten to death? People are taken into police custody for many reasons, not just for ganja smoking or possession of ganja. People need to know that they are safe. Accountability and leadership are also matters of concern.

This is not to defend breakers of the law. In fact, I believe that a man being beaten to death while in police custody is also breaking the law.

I would have preferred to hear that an investigation would be carried out so as to garner further information on the issue. It is high time we all stopped beating around the bush. We need accountability to always take precedence. After all, that is what justice and democracy are all about.