Cayman Islands government representatives confirmed this week that it will take at least another year to make temporary holding cells operated by the police in George Town and in West Bay human rights compliant.
The move will require a scheduled $1 million in this year’s budget and will mean the construction of a new jail facility, likely somewhere in George Town.
Problems with the quality of the police holding facilities were identified by both the police commissioner in 2009 and government officials during 2008, but Cayman never managed to correct the issues largely because of a lack of funding.
In fact, concern regarding the police jails was practically the first public statement made by Commissioner David Baines after he took the job in June 2009.
“There was a real issue … about West Bay, actually the station, the size of the community and the demands facing it is another area,” he said following a meeting with Cayman Islands Cabinet members. “We’ve raised with the governor the state of the central (George Town) lock up and detention facilities on [Grand Cayman] which, if we’re going to prefer obligations under human rights legislation, need to be addressed and fairly quickly.” (please click here for story)
The problem arises with section 6 (1) of the Bill of Rights, which takes effect on 6 November.
The section reads: “All persons deprived of their liberty have the right to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”
Sections 6(2) and 6(3) of the bill refer to the separation of juvenile prisoners from adults and of unconvicted prisoners from convicted ones. Those two sections do not take effect until 6 November, 2013.
However, the first section is in effect as of early next month, and it could cause problems.
Deputy Chief Officer Wesley Howell with the government Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs said a request for proposal for a new jail holding facility will go out within the next month. He said the building would likely have to be constructed on a site other than the one occupied by the George Town police station because the police station itself is “time bound” as to how much longer it can operate safely.
The structure will be a “custody suite” and will likely be placed somewhere in George Town, although that has not yet been determined.
Portfolio Chief Officer Eric Bush said Tuesday that, going back to 2008, plans for a modern police holding facility were set for the proposed Bodden Town Emergency Centre.
However, in early 2010, plans for the $15 million combined police, fire and medical response station were “delayed indefinitely” due to a lack of available funding.
Construction of the Bodden Town Emergency Response Centre was due to begin in 2008, but the project never moved beyond site works and landscaping, which were required by the Planning Department.
“We planned to build the new jail at the Bodden Town Emergency Centre, but due to the economy it just couldn’t happen,” Mr. Bush said.