More calls for review of incarceration protocols

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More calls for review of incarceration protocols

Thursday, June 04, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Psychiatric Association is calling on the relevant authorities, including the Department of Correctional Services and the Ministry of Justice, to conduct an immediate review of Noel Chambers' circumstances in prison and the 146 cases mentioned by the Independent Commissions of Investigations (INDECOM), to ensure that their human rights are safeguarded and to reduce any liability on the part of the state.

INDECOM this week highlighted Noel Chambers, an 81-year-old man, who reportedly died in prison after 40 years of incarceration without trial. It also acknowledged the plight of another 146 persons with mental illness who are being held in prison without trial.

The association noted that the unjustified incarceration of an individual is a violation of the fundamental human rights that are safeguarded under several treaties including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, which it said Jamaica was the first country to have signed.

The association further highlighted the situation of Ivan Barrows who was lost in the prison system for 31 years without trial and who was released in 2001 and subsequently awarded damages of $9 million for unjustified 28 years of incarceration.

The association also requested a review of protocols for the provision of timely and appropriate psychiatric care for any such individuals.

“We further note that the approved amendments (2007) to the Criminal Justice Administration Act and the Legal Aid Act making special provisions for the treatment of those suffering from mental disorders who come in conflict with the law, have not been implemented,” it said in a press release.

The association said it is advocating for individuals living with mental illnesses to be given the same human rights as others and be treated with dignity without stigmatization.

“Because of the neglect over the many years by successive governments this issue must now be given a high priority by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Security and Justice. We are not attributing the problem to any single ministry but we are requesting that these ministries work collaboratively to solve this long standing problem,” the association said.


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