Mrs. Scott Mottley says the damning report to members of the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament from Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry paints a crisis that no human being should be asked to endure. In addition, such treatment breaches the Charter of Rights, which demands that all citizens be treated with dignity.
In a statement today, Senator Scott Mottley said when innocent young men are treated in such a way to degrade and dehumanize them, the nation is setting itself up for serious problems.
“The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity, what is happening to our young men, who are not even prisoners, is a breach of this basic principle. They are treated worse than dogs in their own country. This is beyond disgraceful.”
Young men have been held and no information about their whereabouts was passed on their families, some of them had signs of diseases such as scabies. They are given bush tea and hard dough bread for a meal and they are left to sleep on hard concrete floors without even the comfort of a piece of cardboard. The Public Defender said the buckets of foods sat side by side with the buckets of human waste in the detention area.
The Justice Shadow Minister said under the SoEs and the Zones of Special Operations the government must recognize that detainees are entitled to even the very basic dignities of every human being. Some 11, 000 young men have been detained and very few of them have been charged.
The detention of over one hundred children is also a matter of serious concern to the PNP and should not take place again during the current States of Emergency. She said the Ministers with responsibility for Children’s affairs should immediately ensure that the various laws and protocols are observed and a specific report done for Parliament.
The PNP Shadow Minister said the government should immediately conduct an inspection of the conditions in St. James and other detention centers in St. Catherine and St. Andrew Southern and issue the necessary instructions for the provision of basic human services, including cots. The government, through the Ministry of National Security, should also address the funding for detainee rations, as $300 a day was manifestly inadequate.
“I am calling on all well thinking Jamaicans to speak up about this situation, as anyone, regardless of social status can be held under the SoE, we have seen it with Jade Lee, a business woman, who was not only detained because she refused to put out her cigarette, but was searched in a most degrading and humiliating manner.” Mrs. Scott Mottley said.
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