KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday January 23, 2018 – Jamaica’s Justice Minister Delroy Chuck says an emergency review tribunal will be established shortly to hear and consider appeals by persons who have been affected by the State of Emergency that has been declared for the parish of St James.
The tribunal will adjudicate on appeals brought by or on behalf of persons who have been detained under the powers granted to the security forces.
Chuck explained that the tribunal, which is provided for in the emergency regulations, will consider any abuses, challenges and concerns by persons who have been affected.
The Emergency Powers Regulations 2018 will be tabled in Parliament during its next sitting in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act.
Chuck said he and Prime Minister Andrew Holness will have discussions to determine the membership of the tribunal.
During the State of Emergency, which was declared last Thursday in an effort to restore peace, reclaim public order and ensure public security in the parish which is home to the island’s tourist town, Montego Bay, security forces have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, restrict access to places and detain people without a warrant.
But Minister Chuck assured that respect for human life will be preserved and protected.
“Citizens, even if they are suspects, will be treated with the utmost decency, civility and respect for their rights and freedoms,” he noted.
However, there are concerns about how the more than 100 men who have been detained since the State of Emergency was declared, are being treated at the detention centre.
President of the Cornwall Bar Association, Stacy-Ann Young, said that based on reports reaching her, the facility is overcrowded and conditions are worsening.
She told RJR News in Jamaica that while attorneys have been posted at the detention centre on a shift basis to assist in representation for the detained men, they have been unable to get information on their status.
And she said there seemed to be no systematic approach towards questioning and detention or release of persons held by the police.
“The police ought to know the persons whom they are ready to question or just release, and if they are ready at this time for questioning, we are ready with the services, but as it stands, there’s absolutely no system,” Young said.
She said her association is working along with the Office of the Public Defender to see how the situation can be resolved as quickly as possible.
And Public Defender Arlene Harrison-Henry confirmed that information is being gathered to guide what action her office takes.