Perspective: State Of Emergency 2018 … Constitutional Rights Of Detainees Being Trampled? Public Defender? Ja. W.I.

Picture of Arlene Harrison Henry, Public Defender Hugh Faulkner, Legal Aid Council & PM Andrew Holness

The Sate Of Emergency called by PM Holness is under fire from the legal community. The vexed issue of the constitutional rights of detainees who have been picked up by the joint forces consisting of the JCF/JDF personnel in an effort to rid St. James (Montego Bay) of alleged violence producers … the area covered under the State Of Emergency 2018.  The Prime Minister has repeatedly urged the joint security forces to “respect the human rights of detainees …” The PM was addressing journalists today Wednesday 24, 2018 at his quarterly press briefing at Jamaica House. The PM said inter alia “I am aware of the complaints and am trying to deal with them … monitoring the detention centres for Human Rights abuses.”

Rule OF Law

“Despite the State Of Emergency, fundamental human rights must be respected … presumption of innocence is still assured, even under a State of Emergency … ventilation and at least a bed for sleeping should be provided” according to a strident Public Defender. Reports that detainees are being asked to sleep on the “cold concrete” was condemned.


United Nation’s Geneva Convention clearly state the minimum standards which must be afforded prisoners of war.  Detainees, in my perspective would fall under these international conventions designed to set minimum standards to protect the human rights of individuals so held/detained and under the egis of as provided by law under the State Of Emergency Act which is provided for by the Competent Authority … a creature of the State Of Emergency. Jamaica is a signatory to this Convention.

Hugh Faulkner

Hugh Faulkner, of the Legal Aid Council also said “the interviewing area was only one room, so detainees can be interviewed by lawyers was inadequate. There was only one such space … the authorities have promised a second interviewing room.”

“The number of detainees in detention is a changing figure as they come and go” asserts the Public Defender.

Detention Area

“Make shift arrangement for holding detainees is rough” declared Arlene Harrison Henry, Public Defender. The Public Defender was speaking with Dennis Brooks and Kalilah Reynolds on a popular radio show “This Morning”. She was joined by Mr. Hugh Faulkner of the Legal Aid Council who provides legal assistance for detainees and the poor etc. Faulkner was scathing in his comments on the state of detainees.

Medical Intervention

Hugh Faulkner asserted that “medical examinations should be made available for those persons detained. He stressed that those detainees on medication or suffering from preexisting medical conditions should be attended to. A detainee complained about back pain from sleeping on the concrete floor.  Another detainee had pains in his leg.

2010 Tivoli Enquiry

The lessons learned from the 2010 Tivoli incursion and subsequent report from the Sir David Simons led, very costly enquiry report should be implemented. There was a call for an apology to the victims and financial compensation as part of these recommendations going forward from this enquiry. The price tag was over J$300 million. PM Holness did the apology last year in Parliament.

Have we taken these findings seriously?  We hope these wide ranging set of recommendations will guide this new 2018 State Of Emergency. This is our perspective. What is yours?

Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada  … who has an interest in matters legal.

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