Government Must Urgently Address Conditions In Our Detention Facilities - Williams

JLP Spokesman on Justice Senator Alexander Williams, is today lamenting that conditions in our lock-ups are degrading and inhuman and continue to violate basic human rights. He went on to say, “the very deplorable conditions in which individuals are being held are inconsistent with established health and safety standards and simple human dignity. Individuals, who are detained, under the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, are frequently held in cells that are wet, filthy, without proper ventilation or personal hygiene facilities. Some of these citizens are often locked away for extended periods without being brought before a magistrate.”
Senator Williams stated that while the violent death of Mario Deane at the Barnett Street police station has brought into sharp focus the care and custody of people in lock-ups, there have been numerous similar tragedies over the years, including Agana Barrett at the Constant Spring lock-up twenty years ago. He insisted that “if the government is sincere about protecting the human rights and dignity of Jamaicans, it must act swiftly and make the investment in personnel and infrastructure to ensure that our detention facilities meet international human rights standards - We must not allow another Mario Deane".
He asserts that “the PNP-led government has failed to demonstrate a proactive and clear vision on this matter”. Senator Williams went on to note that Resident Magistrates and the Panel of Justices of the Peace who are mandated to visit lock-ups must be encouraged to take a proactive role in ensuring that individuals are also brought swiftly before the courts and that the conditions and treatment of persons in lock-ups and correctional facilities meet a minimum standard.
Senator Williams is therefore calling on the government to move with dispatch, to not only reduce the number of persons in lock-ups but to address the policy of overcrowding. He said “there must be a streamlining of offenders to ensure that non-violent offenders, especially those detained for minor offences, are not routinely incarcerated”. He concluded that the Security Minster and the government must “no longer detain the country behind the walls of political rhetoric” and that, “It is not enough for the Minister to acknowledge that many of the facilities were built since the colonial era; he must take concrete steps to address this age old problem plaguing detention facilities”.