NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe, QC.
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe said a request will be made to the Office of the Prime Minister for an independent review commission to be appointed to look at matters relating to the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
He also said the acting correctional services commissioner has been dispatched to the prison and will report to the legal officer at the Ministry of National Security.
“I met with him where he raised more issues that had to be addressed more so than the review,” Mr Munroe said.
“I also met with the Correctional Services Board who were responsible for the oversight of the prison.
“They gave me information about why they were not able to comply with their statutory obligation to put in a report because I haven’t seen a report from them. All of that will now be collated and amalgamated and a request will be made to the Office of the Prime Minister because the prime minister is responsible for appointing the commissions.”
Asked about the nature of the request, he said: “For an independent review commission to be appointed for the matters to be looked at independently and fairness to everyone involved.
“What’s going on now is a review of where we were of the COVID mitigation policies and the result of that doesn’t have to await an independent review. That has just resulted in the need for the budgeting of an additional $19,000 to 20,000 a month to deal with mitigating COVID in the prison for simple things –. like disinfectant, PPEs for the correctional officers. So that is acted upon, you cannot wait around for someone to tell you you have to take COVID mitigation strategies.
“The other aspects of looking at the operation of the correctional institution, that is what will be subject to review.”
It was previously announced in a press statement that Corrections Commissioner Charles Murphy has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into matters at the prison, including the handling of a prisoner who caught COVID-19 during lock-up.
Asked if this independent investigation will determine if Mr Murphy will stay on, the minister said “it will advise the prime minister, who ultimately has responsibility over that particular part of it.”
Mr Munroe was also asked about the need for independent bodies to look into police brutality investigations.
He said: “There’s no such thing as an independent body because somebody will appoint it. Somebody will staff it. My inclination is that we need not reinvent the wheel. Our neighbours into the south, Jamaica, who has a similar colonial history to ours, a similar constitution, has a body. . .who is appointed to review police misconduct. We certainly will be looking at forms like (that) because there is no need to invent the wheel.
“Jamaica has the same constitutional construct as we do and so we will be able to benefit by looking at what they have done. Any missteps that have happened along the way and more importantly how the courts, we sharing a final court of appeal in the Privy Council, have reacted to what has happened in Jamaica.”