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2004-12-13 16:52:31

Allegations Of Abuse At Detention Centre Untrue, Claims Minister

The Minister said it was alleged that two male Cuban nationals were beaten severely and threatened at gunpoint with death by a guard at the Detention Centre.

Allegations of abuse and inhumane conditions at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre have been found to be uncorroborated, without basis and totally untrue, Minister of Labour and Immigration the Hon. Vincent Peet disclosed in Parliament Wednesday.

Minister Peet said; an independent investigation made in October 2004 was conducted into the allegations by trained Police detectives using both covert or undercover techniques and overt means such as direct interviews of witnesses and other persons concerned and the review of records and other relevant information.

The Minister noted that it was alleged that a particular female Cuban National being detained at the Detention centre was denied the medicine which was necessary for the treatment of her illness.

“The investigation by the police has revealed this allegation to be totally untrue,' Minister Peet said.

He said management records have been produced by the Detention centre to support the fact that the individual in question receives appropriate medical care.

Further, he said, the individual herself was interviewed -- in her native language -- by one of the investigating detectives.

“She has indicated, on the record, that not only is she satisfied with the level of medical treatment, but she also found the accommodations to be adequate. The female Cuban national also offered fair comments to the investigating team regarding the treatment of detainees by guards,' Minister Peet said.

The Minister said it was also alleged that two male Cuban nationals were beaten severely and threatened at gunpoint with death by a guard at the Detention Centre.

“Again, the investigation by the Police has revealed this allegation to be both uncorroborated and untrue,' the Minister said.

He said the investigation revealed that one of the male Cuban national threatened to cut the throat of a caretaker at the Centre. Upon being approached by a guard on duty, the Cuban national wrestled away a baton or “billy' from the guard, who was then forced to draw his firearm to maintain order.

“Detainees and other witnesses who were present could not corroborate any assault as alleged,' Minister Peet said.

It was further alleged that there are poor living conditions at the Detention Centre, including a lack of potable drinking water, a lack of hygienic supplies, medicine and adequate food. It was also alleged that on October 10, a number of Cuban detainees were forced to stand for more than two hours in the sun with no water.

“The investigation revealed that the allegations surrounding the lack of hygienic supplies and medicine are without a basis in fact, because such necessities are supplied as the need arises,' the Minister said.

Minister said it appears from the conclusions of the Police investigation that there is some cause for concern over the supply of potable water at the Detention centre.

“The Police report concludes that the water supply at the centre is inadequate and often interrupted due to the malfunction of a system installed specifically to correct this problem,' he said.

Minister Peet said the Police report also concludes that a shortage of staff at the Detention centre has made it necessary to serve a late breakfast (at 10;00a.m.) and an early dinner (at 4:00p.m.) with lunch at 12 noon.

“It is considered that this is an inappropriate dietary schedule for the detainees,' he said.

In addition, Minister Peet said, the report speaks of a lack of shelter other than the dormitories, such that the detainees are constantly exposed to the elements while outside.

He said the Police report contains certain recommendations for a comprehensive assessment report to be done, so that the Government may be properly briefed on each and every challenge faced at the Detention Centre.

The Minister said the report also calls for the codification of regulations governing the operation of the Centre, in part to guard against future similar allegations.

Among other recommendations, are said, are a call for the further training of the personnel at the Centre, the upgrade and expansion of the Centre's accommodations and the need for the introduction of recreational facilities.

“The Government will now study the report in detail, with the necessary input from experts in the various areas, with a view to assessment and implementation of the recommendations where possible and desirable,' Minister Peet said.

The Minister also announced that he has decided to initiate a review of the management at the Centre in order to strengthen the administration, where necessary.

The Bahama Journal

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