Conflicting Reports Surround State of St James SOE Detainees


Following a media tour of the Montego Bay Free Port Lock Up in St James, there are still conflicting reports about the conditions in which detainees are being held under the State of Public Emergency in the parish.

The Police are maintaining the inhumane conditions described by Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry last week in the nation’s Parliament no longer exist.

Senior Superintendent of Police, SSP, Anthony Morris has been the Head of the St. James State of Public Emergency, for the past six months.

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Senior Superintendent Morris says up to last evening only two detainees were being held in the Montego Bay Freeport lock up. He says detainees are usually held for less than 24-hours.

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But, attorney at law Isat Buchanan who’s represented some of those detained under the special security measure, challenged the Senior Officer’s declarations.

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Mr Buchanan says he last visited the area at the Freeport Lock-up housing the detainees in September this year. He says at that time the conditions were as the Public Defender described in Parliament last week.

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In the meantime, Mr Buchanan says there’s need for an overhaul of the system of detention under the State of Public Emergency in St James.

During an invited tour of the detention facilities at the Monetgo Bay Freeport Police lock-up yesterday, our news team didn’t notice most of the ills outlined by the Public Defender. But, Mr Buchanan is suggesting the conditions were improved to impress the media.

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However, Senior Superintendent Morris again tried to defend the conditions in the lockup. He says issues that arise are usually addressed as soon as possible.

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Stevian Simmonds is an investigative journalist with almost 3 years of experience in radio broadcasting, production and reporting. She graduated from Caribbean School of Media and Communication in 2014 and joined Nationwide News in 2016. In 2018, she produced a special report examining the working conditions of the Bussiness Process Outsourcing Industry. She worked undercover as a call center agent for a month, revealing the lack of data protection and general security infrastructure in the industry. Her report also highlighted the poor working conditions and remuneration faced by workers in the industry. In 2018, Stevian traveled to New Delhi India where she participated in the Inaugural WHO Partners Forum benefiting from critical training related to reporting on women’s and children’s health issues.

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