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JAMAICA | Cornwall Bar Concerned over Detainees' access to SOE Tribunal

Featured JAMAICA | Cornwall Bar Concerned over Detainees' access to SOE Tribunal
MONTEGO BAY,  Jamaica December 17, 2018 - The Cornwall Bar Assocoation is concerned that only a small fraction of persons detained in St. James under the Public State of Emergency are able to access the Emergency Powers Tribunal due to the absence of Detention Orders that allow their cases to be heard and to determine why they should or should not be continuously detained.

Cornwall Bar President, Attorney-at-Law  Stacy-Ann Young in an interview with WireJa, explained that "what the constitution says is that when there is a state of emergency, a tribunal should be assembled and the tribunal should hear from anybody who is detained as to why they should or should not be continuously detained."

However, she lamented that "the tribunal is maintaining that they only come into effect once a detention order is signed. So you have a problem that out of the approximately 4000 people that were taken into custody, there were only between 19 and 24 detention orders signed."

Miss Young further lamented that "the regulations which were promulgated after the State of Emergency did not take into consideration all who have been detained, but only those for whom detention orders have been signed by the minister. If no detention order is signed, detainees will have to wait three months until a judge can hear the case.

"But that is not what the constitution says it should be. The special tribunal should be set up to hear from all the perons who have been taken into costody, so as not to clog up the regular the court system," the Cornwall Bar President pointed out.

In the meantime, Chairman of the Emergency Powers Tribunal for the State of Emergency (SOE), in St James, Ian Wilkson, told Radio Jamaica's "That's a Rap" weekly review programme that the Tribunal should not be blamed for the controversy surrounding the detention of individuals under the State of Emergency in St James. 

Mr. Wilkinson also said members of the tribunal had some concerns about the conditions under which detainees were being held in detention facilities in St James and made special note of their jurisdiction as it relates to hearing from the detainees.

“It might not have been the intention of the draftsmen, it might not have been the intention of Parliament , the Governor General or the Prime Minister, but our jurisdiction was very limited in scope. In terms of a detention order, triggering action from the tribunal. In other words, without a detention order we are sitting and waiting ....” Wilkinson said.

He informed that the Tribunal has made several recommendations to the authorities to deal with the detention of persons under the SOE.

“There are several recommendations which we are making to improve the process going forward for future tribunals. For example, there is  a particularly problematic provision in the regulations which is regulation 30. Under regulation 30, someone can be detained for up to 14 days. For example, with the intervention of a deputy Superintendent of police and a Senior Superintendent of police, they can get involved and extend that detention, until the duration of the SOE. Under that particular provision, we do not have jurisdiction. What the regulation says, is that we must facilitate hearings as quickly as possible,” Wilkinson said.

Last modified onMonday, 17 December 2018 09:57
  • Countries: Jamaica

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