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Mitchell: Get The Facts On Claims Of Poor Treatment

Senator Fred Mitchell.

Senator Fred Mitchell.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday announced that he intends to speak with executives of the Department of Correctional Services in the wake of claims of mistreatment raised by a Jamaican national earlier this week after he was freed from custody.

However, Mr Mitchell, speaking in the House of Assembly, urged the public not to rush to judgment.

“We must try to get all the facts,” Mr Mitchell said.

“I will be speaking with prison officials to see if any complaint was ever made of the kind of abuse that has been reported in the Jamaican press during the incarceration of the individual who is now complaining.”

Matthew Sewell, 27, was released from Bahamian custody on October 15 after Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered his released from detention. He had been in and out of the prison system and the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for nine years on various charges, however he was never convicted of a crime.

In his first public comments since his release last week, Mr Sewell told the Jamaican Gleaner that he was forced to spend years under inhumane conditions at Her Majesty’s Prison, Fox Hill, since renamed the Bahamas Department of Correctional Sevices.

He also alleged physical abuse while in custody, poor living conditions and a number of infringements of his legal rights.

Mr Sewell told the Gleaner that despite his freedom, he now carries a myriad of nightmares.

Mr Sewell’s ordeal started back in June 2006 when, at the age of 18, he was granted a three weeks permit to visit his father in the Bahamas before finding himself accused of allegedly raping a six-year-old girl.

Nearly three years later he was charged with the alleged rape of his then girlfriend. Shortly after that, he was also arrested and charged with housebreaking and in March 2014 charged with murder.

By the time of his scheduled appearance before Justice Bernard Turner on October 31, 2014 concerning the murder case, the remaining cases he had pending were dismissed after years of awaiting trial.

The murder charge too was dismissed against him, however, he was turned over to the Detention Centre instead of being released.

Last Thursday, Justice Isaacs ordered that Mr Sewell’s travel documents be returned to him immediately and that he be allowed 60 days to resolve his legal status in the Bahamas upon making an application to the Immigration Department.

Senior Justice Isaacs ultimately ruled that Mr Sewell’s detention was not justified and ordered his immediate release.

Mr Sewell’s lawyer, Fred Smith, QC, has said that his client intends to take civil action against the government.

Speaking on Mr Smith’s comments Mr Mitchell said: “This seems to me to speak volumes about the nature of the individual actor with who we are dealing and to his credit or lack thereof.”

He added: “…I remind people that the source of these public actions in the courts once urged citizens of this country to sue the government en masse in order to bankrupt the government.”

Representatives of Mr Sewell told The Tribune that he is working to address the issues with his passport and other relevant travel documents, adding that once he had addressed those matters he would return to Jamaica.

Comments

sealice 4 years, 8 months ago

Fweddy wants to probe.... all the little boys.....

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John 4 years, 8 months ago

Why does Fred Mitchell have to make enquiries about something that is public knowledge? Everyone knows that this country's prison is the worst nightmare anyone could experience. And since so many young men are winding up there, weather innocent or guilty, now is the time to address the below humane standards at the prison, if only from a health point of view. You say the shanty towns are a health hazard, but the prison environment is ten times worse. Why do grown men have to still be going to the toilet on waste cans that have to remain in overcrowded cells and then physically dumped? If it is bad enough for the shanty towns, don't you think its worse for persons kept in closed quarters for most of the time? Set a goal and allocate finances to have the entire prison compound outfitted with proper waste systems within three years. especially in the areas of remand where persons may be innocent. Remember these persons will eventually have to return to society. Why wait until the "IT" hits the press to make enquiries? As for the young man being caught up in the legal system for a decade, this is not the first story of its kind. Young men have told stories of being 'profiled' by the police and having charges placed on them. As fast as they clear up one matter, another charge is put on them. Eventually some give up fighting

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TruePeople 4 years, 8 months ago

Ofcourse Freddy, we all know the amenities at FoxHill and down Carmichael is 5star Atlantis level. And muh bey, the guards dem! the Nicest and most helpful prison wardens in the hemisphere or anywhere!!

I mean, as it should be in a country WITHOUT HUMAN RIGHTS

Damn lyard

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TheMadHatter 4 years, 8 months ago

This is true. In fact, I have recently learned that this is the real reason why BahMar has failed - the investors discovered (through requests on their reservation system online) that foreign tourists are actually preferring to make reservations at HMP and Carmichael. They say the cost is a LOT less, the food and comforts are better - and the customer service is outstanding.

I don't know what this Jamaican complaining about. He was basically given a FREE 9-year hotel reservation and he didn't even have to go before the courts for any trial. Who needs trials anyway? All that "justice" stuff is for the birds. If you are accused then you must be guilty. That's how we go.

Child we better get started building more of dese prisons for da tourists dem. We ga put the rest of the Caribbean out of business. LOL

TheMadHatter

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John 4 years, 8 months ago

These are the ones who become 'professional jailbirds" or hardened criminals. Others are released from jail accused with crimes they may not have committed and were never brought to trial for and meet their demise with these charges behind their names. The report of their deaths in the news never fails to mention that 'this individual was known to police", or he was wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet, or he had some very serious charges on him. While it is the responsibility of the legal system to bring criminals and law breakers to justice, it has even more responsibility to ensure that innocent, law abiding citizens do now become victims of misplaced justice or victimization.

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jusscool 4 years, 8 months ago

We all know that Minister Fred Mitchell has done a job well to be praised when it comes to Immigration . Know other minister has done the job that he has done. He will do more and I say Job well done. Keep up the good work!

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