Office of the Children's Advocate
Report on Visit to Free Port Lock-up
February 3, 2010
Mrs. Mary Clarke, Children's Advocate
Mr. Courtney Ben-y, Investigation Officer
Mr. Dwayne Cargill, Research Officer
Miss Laura Evans, CUSONSO Co-operant
The Child Care and Protection Act, 2004 (CCPA) makes provisions for the treatment
of children held at police stations. According to section 12.-
(1) A constable, a children's officer or a probation and after-care officer may take
to a place of safety any child in respect of whom any of the offences mentioned in
the Second Schedule has been committed, or there is reason to believe has been
committed, or who is, in accordance with the provisions of section 13, about to be
brought before a Children's Court.
(2) Any child taken to a place of safety under this section, or any child who seeks
refuge in a place of safety, shall not be detained there for longer than forty-eight
hours without having been brought before a Children's Court or, ifthere is no
Children's Court sitting in that parish, a Resident Magistrate in chambers.
Pursuant to section 13 (1) Any constable or authorized person may bring before a
Children's Court any child in need of care or p'rofoctiOn: .
Sections 66 and 67 of the CCPA, 2004 state that an-angements shall be made for
preventing a child who is -
(a) at a police station in connection with the commission of any offence, whether
committed by the child or by any other person;
(b) being conveyed to or from any criminal court, remand centre or place of safety; or
(c) waiting before or after attendance of court,
from associating with any adults, not being relative, who is charged with any offence
other than the offence with which the child is jointly charged.
67. - (1) Where a person who is apparently a child is apprehended, with or without
wanant, and cannot be brought forthwith before a court, the officer or sub-officer of
police in charge of the police station to which the person is brought shall act in
accordance with subsection (2).
(2) The officer or sub-officer shall -
(a) so inform the government agency responsible for the care and protection of
(b) enquire into the case and may, in accordance with the Bail Act, release the
person on a recognizance being entered into by the person or his parent or
guardian (with or without sureties) for such amount as will, in the opinion of the
officer or sub-officer, secure the person's attendance upon the hearing of the
charge, and shall release that person unless -
(i) the charge is one of murder or other grave crime;
(ii) it is necessary in the person's interest to remove the person from the
association with any reputed criminal or prostitute; or
(iii) the officer of sub-officer has reason to believe that the person's release would
defeat the ends ofjustice.
(3) Where a person apparently a child is apprehended and is not released under
subsection (2), the agency responsible for the care and protection of children shall cause
the person to be detained in a juvenile remand centre until the person can be brought
before the court.
Pursuant to Section 68.-(1) Any court on remanding or committing for trial a child who is
not released on bail shall commit that child to custody in a juvenile remand centre named
in the commitment, to be detained there for the period for which the child is remanded or
until the child is there delivered in due course of law:
Provided that in the case of a child who has attained the age of
fourteen years -
(a) the court shall not be obliged so to commit that child if the court certifies that
the child is of-
(i) so unruly a character that the child cannot safely be so committed; or
(ii) so depraved a character that the child is not a fit person to be so
(b) where the court so certifies, the child may be committed to such place,
including an adult correctional centre, as may be specified in the commitment
(2) Subject to subsection (3), the court which makes an order under subsection (I),
committing a child to custody may, on application-
(a) vary the order; or
(b) revoke the order in respect of a child referred to in the proviso to subsection
(3) Ifan application under subsection (2) cannot conveniently be made to the comi
which made the order for commitment, action under that subsection may be taken by any
court having jurisdiction in the place where the sitting of the court which made the order
(4) Ifthe order is revoked, the child may be committed to such place, including an adult
correctional centre, as may be specified in the commitment warrant.
- ---- 'Pursiianfto Sedion-69""wner-e..a"i::hild.is cliargea-with an offence or is for-any other reason -
brought before a court, the parent/guardian shall be required to attend the court before
which the case is heard or determined, during all the stages of the proceedings, unless the
court is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require his/her attendance.
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The United Nations Rules for the Protection of Children Deprived of their Liberty (1990)
is the international authority on the treatment of children in lock-ups. The Rules are
intended to counteract the detrimental effects of deprivation of liberty by ensuring respect
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for the human iights of juveniles. They serve as an internationally accepted framework
within which states can regulate the deprivation of liberty of all those under 18 years of
age. Although the Rules per se are in the form of a non-binding recommendation, some
have become binding by vi1tue of their incorporation into our laws. They are also
elaborations of the basic principles found in the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child of which Jamaica is a signatory.
Deprivation of liberty means any form of detention or imprisonment or the placement of
a person in a public or p1ivate custodial setting, from which this person is not permitted
to leave at will by order of any judicial, administrative or other public authority.
SECTION II (12) states that the deprivation of liberty should be effected in conditions
and circumstances which ensure respect for the human rights of juveniles. Juveniles
detained in facilities should be guaranteed the benefit of meaningful activities and
progranunes which would serve to promote and sustain their health and self-respect, to
foster their sense of responsibility and encourage those attitudes and skills that will assist
them in developing their potential as members of the society.
SECTION III. JUVENILES UNDER ARREST OR AWAITING TRIAL
17. Juveniles who are detained under arrest or awaiting trial ("untried") are presumed
innocent and shall be treated as such. Detention before trial shall be avoided to the extent
possible and limited to exceptional circumstances. Therefore, all efforts shall be made to
apply alternative measures. When preventive detention is nevertheless used, juvenile
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processing of such cases to ensure the shortest possible duration of detention. Untried
detainees should be separated from convicted juveniles.
18. The conditions under which an untried juvenile is detained should be consistent with
the rules set out below, with additional specific provisions as are necessary and
appropriate, given the requirements of the presumption of innocence, the duration of the
detention ano-thelegal status and-circumstances of the juvenile. These-provisions-would
include, but not necessarily be restricted to, the following:
a) Juveniles should have the right of legal counsel and be enabled to apply for free legal
aid, where such aid is available; and to communicate regularly with their legal advisers.
Privacy and confidentiality shall be ensured for such communications;
b) Juveniles should be provided, where possible, with opportunities to pursue work, with
remuneration, and continue education or training, but should not be required to do so.
Work, education or training should not cause the continuation of the detention;
c) Juveniles should receive and retain materials for their leisure and recreation as are
compatible with the interests ofthe administration ofjustice.
Section V. Personnel
81. Personnel should be qualified and include a sufficient number of specialists such as
educators, vocational instructors, counsellors, social workers, psychiatrists and
psychologists. These and other specialist staff should normally be employed on a
permanent basis. This should not preclude part-time or volunteer workers when the level
of support and training they can provide is appropriate and beneficial. Detention facilities
should make use of all remedial, educational, moral, spiritual, and other resources and
forms of assistance that are appropriate and available in the community, according to the
individual needs and problems of detained juveniles.
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The Office of the Children's Advocate visited the children at the Free Port lock-up in
Montego Bay, St. James on February 3, 2010 at approximately lO:OOam. The visitors
observed that the children were in four cells.
The visitors were told that there are only two bathrooms for all the inmates; both males
and females. When the females are bathing, the males are locked in. When children are
to bath, the other inmates are locked in. The visitors were told that there is no special
staff employed specifically to deal with the children.
The cells are semi dark with limited light and ventilation and are approximately 6x10
inches in size. There are two sets of concrete bunk beds and one toilet in each cell. The
visitors observed numerous cockroaches on the cell gates. The visitors were told that the
children are locked in for 24 hours as there is no staff to monitor them outside.
Additionally, no educational activities are provided for the juveniles.
The visitors were informed that there were 21 children in the lock-up of which one was
female and that all the children were remanded by the court. It was also pointed out that
occasionally the lock-up holds children allegedly involved in murders, shootings and
house breaking. There is limited space and as such, children with major and minor
crimes and those deemed uncontrollable are placed together regardless of the reason for
being detained. Parents and guardians are allowed to take food and change of clothes
The visitors were told that because the court system is sometimes overburdened, children
can be remanded in custody for up to a year. The administration uses a Card System for
all inmates which record all relevant information on the inmates. The visitors did not
view any ofthe cards.
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The visitors spoke to all 21 children in the four cells in the presence of the officer in
charge. Ofthe children the visitors spoke with, eight were school drop-outs.
There were six boys in this cell with only two sets (4) of concrete bunk beds. Their
ages and reasons for being in lock-up are shown in the table below. They are allowed to
use the bathroom once per day.
Age Reasons for being in Lock-up # of times to Court
12 Parent ask for him to stay in None
14 Set parent house on fire (Sept) 5
15 Held with a knife (August) 6
16 Police take him in to punish Not yet
13 House break in Not yet
17 Father carry him in 1
Age Reasons for being in Lock-up # of times to Court
17 Police raid House (yesterday) Not yet
......" ' ' ·-..:- ~ 0 . .. ,. ' " , .,.,, ' " ·~·· · - - - - · W o , , ·~ ~ . ... ' ''"" .. ..... ·~· 4~ .,,. . - ·'" - -~ '. .... ..
,__17 Police raid House (yesterday) Not yet
15 To be processed Not yet
14 Wounding (December) 3
17 Robbery with Aggravation 8
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17 Unlawful Wounding 1
Three of the boys in this cell were living without adult supervision at the time of their
detention. One of the boys stated that his mother was abroad.
Age Reasons for being in lock-up # of times to Court
17 Breach Probation
17 To be processed
17 Suspicion of shooting and 4
14 Illicit drugs Not yet
17 Shooting Sentenced
The 14 year old stated that his mother does not know that he is in jail.
The visitors observed that there were four inmates in this cell, one of whom was a child
age 16. The other three inmates were adults in lock-up for major crimes. The teenager
infonned the visitors that she was brought in after the Police came to the house she was
staying in search of another individual, however she was alone there. Contact was made
with the Child Development Agency regarding the female in need of care and protection.
The OCA must highlight the fact that the minimum standards set out by the United
Nations are not being observed and the CCPA, 2004 are not being complied with.
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• Children are placed together irrespective of the reasons for being detained.
• Children are being held with adults in the case of cell four.
• There is no provision for the children to continue their education when they are
held in custody.
• The sleeping arrangement for the children are cruel and inhumane
• There is no provision for the children to have recreational activities.
• ·· -lffire-is iio-speda1ized staffing 1n place for the-children-----=------
• Some children are not taken to court within the 48 hours specified by the Child
Care and Protection Act, 2004.
• Some of the children claimed that their parents were not informed that they were
in lock-up or when they were attending court.
• The Child Development Agency officers are sometimes not present in Court and
not aware when children are held in lock-ups.
Previous visits to other lock-ups were also made by an investigation officer from the
OCA. Reports were submitted to the OCA's Senior Legal Advisor who is contemplating
legal proceedings. A summary of findings is attached.
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Actions taken by the OCA to date
1. The following letters were sent:
Hon. Delroy Chuck, MP Inadequate places for
Speaker to the House of juveniles in Places of Safety
Representative. and Juvenile Remand Centres-
Complaints by the Jamaica
Constabulary force and the St.
Hon. Dr. Oswald Harding, Mary resident Magistrate's
PhD,QC, President of the Court
Ms. Alison Anderson, Chief
Executive Director, Child
Difficulties being experienced
by the Jamaica Constabulary
Force with respect to children
for Places of Safety and the
Dr. Jean Dixon, Permanent
Secretary, Ministry of
Hon. Delroy Chuck, MP
Speaker to the House of
Mrs. Heather Cooke
Clerk to the Houses of
Hon. Rudyard Spencer
Minister of Heath
Need for additional space in Hon. Senator Dorothy
Hon. Dwight Nelson
Minister of National
Places of Safety and Juvenile Lightbourne, Attorney
Remand Centres General/Minister of Justice
Ms. Alison Anderson Chief
Executive Officer, Child
Clerk of the Courts, St.
Mary Resident Magistrate's
Superintendent of Police, St.
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Kingston Central Division
Hon. Delroy Chuck, MP
Speaker to the House of
Mrs. Heather Cooke
Clerk to the Houses of
2. Contact made to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Security for
sanitization of cells at Bridgeport Police Station
3. Eleven signed statements collected to seek legal redress on behalfofthe children.
Children in lock-up have now become an issue of national concern and the OCA is
calling on the relevant authorities to immediately identify a facility for children on
remand. The full cooperation of the criminal justice system is needed to reduce the
number of children being detained in lock-ups across the island. Related ministries and
agencies also need to take immediate action.
Report on Juveniles in the Custody of the Police
Date: .January 19, 2010
During the week of January 11 to 13 2010, three Police Stations in St. Andrew and
St. Catherine were visited and juveniles who were in the custody of the Police were
interviewed and signed statements taken from them. Four were at Admiral Town,
three at HalfTree and one at the Bridgeport Police Station.
Juveniles at Admiral Town Police Station were held in unsatisfactory conditions.
The cells were dark and cold and there were no preparations made for them in
keeping with the minimum standards. They are let out of their cells for five minutes
each day to have a bath and use the toilet. They have to pass their urine in bottles
while they are locked down, which is twenty four hours a day. They reported that
they have contracted fungus from the conditions in the cells and from sleeping on the
cold concrete. They complained of roaches crawling over them most of the times
even in the days while they are in the cells. An·angements will be made to have these
juveniles medically examined and medical reports submitted on their behalf.
At the Half Way Tree Police Station, there were four juveniles who were
interviewed. Each stated a different case as to how long they were allowed to be out
oftheir cells each day. They said they were being held with adults. This was verified
when the cell in which they were held was inspected. It was discovered that of the
seven persons in the cell, three were adults. This infraction was pointed out to the
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officer on duty, who said he would be moving to correct the matter very urgently.
Two of these juveniles were held in Trelawny on December 27, 2009 and charged
for possession of ganja. They were transferred to the Half Way Tree Police Station
for an Identification Parade because it was said that the Police in Kingston had
interest m them. They were interviewed by the Major Investigations Unit on
Saturday 15 January 2010, who stated they did not have any interest in them at this
time. They were due for court at Clarks Town on Tuesday January 19th 2010 but
were not picked up by the Police.
Report on .Juveniles in the Custody of the Police
Date: November 4, 2009
The complaint was made that there are juveniles in the custody of the Police. The
Detention and Courts Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force was visited on
Tuesday, November 4 2009 and the officer in charge interviewed and a signed
statement taken. This Division keeps a daily record of all persons who are in the
custody of the Police across the island. A register is maintained at the Division and
daily reports are made to the Assistant Commissioner of Police Administration and
Senior Superintendent of Police Services. Two officers at the Division, an Inspector
and a Corporal are in charge ofkeeping a daily record of all juveniles who are in the
custody of the Police and to seek alternate accommodations in the Correctional
Centres and Places of Safety. As of Tuesday, November 3, 2009, there were seventy
three (73) juveniles in the custody of the Police across the island, twelve (12) of
which are females.
The DSP said there was a meeting with the CDA on March 25 2009 in regards to the
space problem. CDA said they had no space, however the suggestion that the Police
should reduce the number of children charged for Care and Protection, then more
spaces will be available in the places of safety to accommodate them was put
The officer reported that continuous representations are made to the Correctional
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Services for juveniles to be placed in their care, but they too have also maintairied
that there is no space. Copies of correspondence reviewed, revealed that the Police
have been making every attempt to remove juveniles from their custody. The officer
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stated that in every Police division, there are designated Police Stations that keeps
The Divisions and Stations are as follows:
• St. Andrew North Lawrence Tavern
• St. Andrew South Hunts Bay/Duhaney Park
• Kingston West Admiral Town
• ·Kingston East Mountain View
• St. Ann Ocho Rios
• St. Catherine Bridgeport
• Clarendon Four Paths
• Manchester Porns
• St. Elizabeth Black River
• Westmoreland Negri!
• Hanover Lucea/Sandy Bay
• St. James Freeport
• Trelawny Stewart Town
As at 4:OOpm Wednesday, November 4 2009, there were sixty one (61) juveniles
in the custody of the Police, fifty eight (58) males and three (3) females. They
were in the custody ofthe Police at the stations listed below.
• Freeport 19 4
• Frome 8
• Ocho Rios 5
• Claremont 2
• Porns 2
• Four Paths 7
• Central 4
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• Hunts Bay 2
• Bridgeport 5
• Falmouth 1
• Linstead 1
• Morant Bay 1 1 2