'We were never wanted' - Ex-detainees say cops put their photos on 'bogus list'
Two residents of Flankers, in St James, who had turned themselves in to the police after their photographs appeared on a "bogus most wanted" list, which was aired on local television, are now hopping mad, having experienced six horrible days behind bars at the Freeport Police Station before they were released without charge.
"Mi deh home and somebody called mi and seh mi name and photo deh pon a list pon TV seh mi a most wanted," said Jermaine Hood, of Flankers. "As mi get di news, mi rush go out a Freeport Police Station because mi know mi no wanted ... mi just did waa fi know wha gwaan."
According to Hood, while the police said they were not aware that he was wanted, they still decided to detain him for processing. He was to remain locked up for the next six days without food, clothes and access to his family.
"When mi si days start pass and nothing nah happen, mi start ask di police dem question but dem seh a soldier detain mi suh a soldier affi release mi," continued Hood. "It was tough down deh ... overcrowded, no food and no contact wid family. It hurt mi because the only problem mi eva have with police was couple years back when dem hold mi fi driving without a licence."
Junior Reid, whose name also appeared on the "bogus most wanted list", is disputing that the list was false, as according to him, the picture of him that was used on the list was taken by the police some years ago.
"A few years back, di police come through Flankers and detain a whole heap a youth ... dem tek us to Freeport, process wi and tek wi picture and then release wi," said Reid. "It is that same picture that come on the TV ... . Only di police have that picture."
Reid, who is a well-known promoter in his community, says he will seeking to use legal means to retrieve the picture, which, he says, was taken illegally and then used illegally."
Other young men from Rose Heights and Salt Spring related similar experiences, some even questioning whether or not they were targeted because of where they lived and not because of anything they have done.
A Montego Bay-based attorney-at-law, who asked not to be identified, said while he supported the state of emergency, he was concerned about the way in which many of the detainees were rounded up and subsequently treated.
"What happened to these young men has left a bitter taste in my mouth. They heard they were wanted and they turned themselves in. It turned out that they were not wanted, and look how they were treated ... locked up for six days under those terrible conditions we were all hearing about," the lawyer said.
"I am particularly concerned about the way the illegally taken photographs were used. Something must be done to retrieve those photographs so that they cannot be used in the manner they were used again."
Of the more than 400 persons detained since the start of the state of emergency on January 18, only 33 remain in custody. Of the 33, at least eight have been charged with serious crimes, including murder.