With detention centres in Montego Bay, St James bursting at their seams since the imposition of a state of public emergency in the parish 11 days ago,
steps are being taken to house some of those being held in the western city at the maximum-security Horizon Adult Remand Centre in Kingston, and the minimum-security Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre in St Catherine.
National Security Minister, Robert Montague, said this is aimed at ensuring that the rights of all persons who are detained during the state of emergency are protected.
He said he was aware of the space constraints being experienced at the detention centres in St James, which he said was due to the massive response by residents to appeals to provide information on criminal activities via the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) tip line, which has resulted in the detention of a growing number of suspects.
As a consequence, he said additional accommodation will be provided for the detainees at the Horizon and Tamarind Farm facilities.
“We have designated a section separate from where other inmates and those who are on appeal at Horizon are… a totally separate space that meets the standards internationally, for holding persons,” Montague said.
“We have identified currently 50 spaces, and we are working at Tamarind Farm… We have a brand new wing (there) that can house 309. It’s not yet occupied, and we are therefore moving in the furnishings and the fittings into that space, to take additional persons who have been detained,” he added.
Meanwhile, the minister said he was hoping that persons who have been listed as ‘wanted’ by the security forces under the state of emergency, will turn themselves in.
He said their safety is guaranteed, as the soldiers and police were given special human rights and customer care service training before the operations began.
“We are determined to respect the human rights of every Jamaican who has been detained, and we will treat them with the dignity that a fellow Jamaican deserves. We have had but one report of any conflict with the public and the security forces, and it has been dealt with,” Montague said.
He added that the Emergency Powers Review Tribunal is in place, and Legal Aid is available for those who feel that they may need redress.
“We are monitoring the situation. It is still early days, but we are very pleased with what is happening, and I know also that the good citizens of St James are very pleased,” he said.
The minister was speaking with the media on Friday at the Carl Rattray Staff College for Human Resource Development/Training in St Ann.