Today’s Editorial for April 29: Lengthy detentions need attention

We agree with the Cayman Islands Criminal Defence Bar Association.

Twelve days is too long to detain someone in jail without charging them with a crime.

It doesn’t happen in the UK or the US.

It doesn’t even happen in Russia where the maximum detention time without being charged is only five days.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service argues that it rarely detains people for lengthy periods without charging them, but we have seen at least one case recently where a former member of the Legislative Assembly was held for seven days before criminal charges were filed against him.

In jurisdictions where lengthy periods of detention are allowed it is usually in terrorism related cases. The lengthy detentions are allowed for the safety of all.

That wasn’t the issue in this case in the Cayman Islands.

The Police Law does set guidelines for lengthy detentions, ensuring that a superintendent or ranking office approve an extended detention after 72 hours, tacking an extra 72 hours on. At the end of six days the Police Commissioner must authorise further detention without charges being filed and after nine days officers must take the matter before a magistrate in a closed-door chambers hearing to get permission to hold the person for three more days.

While we haven’t seen anyone held for 12 days without charges being laid recently, the ability to do so is on the books.

In many jurisdictions officers have enough evidence collected against someone before they make the arrest. We suggest that could be looked at as an option in the Cayman Islands, especially if the person is charged with a ‘lesser’ crime, such as disorderly conduct and street trading.

This is one law that lawmakers need to take a good hard look at and consider amending.

No matter the seriousness of the crime, everyone deserves the basic human right of liberty to associate and know why they are being detained via charges being filed.

While we haven’t seen anyone held for 12 days without charges being laid recently, the ability to do so is on the books.

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