A 16-year-old ward of the state will today seek medical attention after he was allegedly slapped by a female warder at the Metcalf Street Juvenile Remand Centre on Saturday.
The incident reportedly occurred about 2:00 pm, and since then the youngster has been complaining about a pain in one ear, said Kahmile Reid, senior public relations officer at the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), which has launched a probe into the incident.
"It was reported that the youngster was being unruly and that a female warder slapped him across the ear. They took him to the Kingston Public Hospital and they referred him to an ENT [ear, nose, and throat] specialist," said Reid. "He is suppose to see the specialist tomorrow (today), but we are going to interview him before he does," she continued.
In addition to investigating incidents involving the police and citizens, INDECOM also probes cases involving soldiers and correctional officers which result in the abuse, injury or death of civilians. Reports are then forwarded to the director of public prosecutions for a ruling.
Yesterday, Reid could not speak to the fate of the accused warder, noting that today's interview should give an indication.
"We are going to interview him to see exactly what happened and to secure a statement from him," she said. "Dependent on the nature and extent of the injury then it would be possible that the warder could face disciplinary actions," Reid said.
Reid was not prepared to speak on the numbers yesterday, however, she described the frequency of reports regarding the abuse of juvenile wards as "not much".
Dr Carolyn Gomes, head of the Jamaicans for Justice, said that the incident highlights the call for better training of warders.
"I don't want to prejudge the investigation, but the report as it is raises concerns about the training and support given to warders," she said. "Remember that the warders themselves came out complaining that they don't get sufficient training, and it is just clear that no attention has been paid to the problem, which will just continue," Dr Gomes added.