Carmichael Road Detention Centre
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE Government has two weeks to adopt precautionary measures set by the Organisation of American States’ human rights commission over alleged conditions at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
The measures call for immediate action to ensure the life and physical integrity of people held in immigration detention, who are believed to be at risk due to alleged inhumane conditions during their detention, such as extreme overcrowding and the lack of appropriate medical attention.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued its mandate after analysing “factual and legal” arguments submitted in applications from three international human rights groups, adding that the government did not respond to its request for information last month.
According to the report, which was sent to the government on February 13, the IACHR has accepted the allegations as factual until proven otherwise. It also pointed out that the government has limited opportunities for human rights groups to visit the Carmivchael Road facility.
“In this sense,” the report read, “the lack of information from the State makes it impossible for the Commission to know of any measures implemented, and in general, the State’s position on the allegations made.
“The Commission considers that the requirement of seriousness is met,” the report continued, “due to, inter alia, the alleged inadequate infrastructure of the facility, the deficient medical attention received, the unsanitary conditions within the detention centre, as well as allegations of physical and psychological abuse.”
The report noted that conditions were exacerbated by extreme overcrowding, pointing to allegations that detainees are “given insufficient food with poor nutritional value, are deprived of access to clean drinking water, are not provided with clean clothes, are consistently denied adequate medical care and are held in dormitory buildings that are infested with mosquitoes, cockroaches, mice and rats.”
It added: “The Commission takes note of the alleged lack of measures to respond to the special situation of unaccompanied children.”
The IACHR received a request for the precautionary measures from the Caribbean Institute for Human Rights, the International Human Rights Clinic of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico and the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights on December 30.
The report referenced similar concerns and recommendations on conditions at Carmichael Road from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2012, and a UN Special Rapporteur in 2013.
The Commission has requested that the government “adopt the necessary measures to ensure the life and physical integrity of the persons in immigration detention at Carmichael Road Detention Centre; provide hygienic conditions and adequate medical treatment to the persons in the facility, according to their respective medical conditions; adopt the necessary measures to address the special situation of unaccompanied children, according to international standards; implement measures to ensure that legal assistance is available to all of the beneficiaries, including relevant information concerning their detention and applicable legal process; take immediate action to substantially reduce overcrowding within the CRDC”.
The Commission provided a 15-day time frame to adopt the measures, and also requested that the government provide updated information periodically. The report added that the government’s adoption of such measures will not constitute any prejudgement that the country has violated rights protected in the American Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man or any other applicable instrument.