Justice Minister Likens Conditions in Police Lockups to Middle Passage

Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck says over-crowding in police lock-ups is like the ‘middle passage’ during the slave trade.

He says he’s appalled at the conditions, which are much like the conditions on slave ships, where Africans were densely packed while being transported to the West Indies.

The comparison follows a submission by the Human Rights advocacy group Jamaicans For Justice, JFJ, to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Monday.

In his address to the commission, JFJ’s Advocacy Manager, Rodje Malcolm, described police lock-ups as ‘incubators for the worst types of human rights abuses, including killings and tortures’.

Minister Chuck says one of the challenges leading to overcrowding is the failure of the Justice system to try cases in a timely manner.

He also says misconduct by the police may contribute to persons being held in lockups unnecessarily.

Justices of the Peace, who visit police lockups, have also complained about the conditions of the facilities, especially regarding sanitation and overcrowding.

Minister Chuck is admitting that the sanitary conditions of police lock-ups are not fit for human use.

Meanwhile, the Minister says the government continues to make efforts to address the poor conditions of police lockups.

He says funds have been allocated to carry out some renovations.

But, he says renovations often fail to get underway because those held cannot be accommodated at another lock -up due to overcrowding.