An inmate who is on remand at HM Prison has filed a case against the Commissioner of Police, claiming among other things that his constitutional rights have been breached and that he has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
The inmate, who cannot be named because of the nature of the allegations against him, wants the case heard by today (Wednesday March 22, 2023) and has asked that the Commissioner present himself to the court for the hearing.
The former Superintendent of the Prison and the Attorney General have also been named in the suit.
The inmate was arrested last October and charged with the offense two days after he was first arrested. Applications were made twice on his behalf for bail and each time he was denied and recommitted to remand.
The grounds for the affidavit filed in the court are that the actions by the police violated the provisions of the Criminal Prosecutions Act of 2017.
“The Criminal Prosecutions Service Act No. 28 of 2017 Section 27(2) states; “Despite the provisions of any law enforced in Antigua and Barbuda, and subject to subsection (1), no public officer shall, after the commencement of this Act, institute any criminal proceedings or undertake the prosecution of any criminal case in any court, unless he is authorised so to do, in writing by the DPP,” and therefore, this is the Grounds for the Application filed at the High Court by the inmate’s attorney, Wendell Alexander, more commonly known as Wendell Robinson.
The application continued by stating that, at the time no authorisation was ever given by the DPP, prior to the charging and filing of the criminal complaint as outlined in Section 27(2) of The Criminal Prosecutions Service Act. The operations of the said Act came into force since November 2021 by the Attorney General, by way of Statutory Instrument.
Therefore, according to the Affidavit, the charge against the Applicant is not properly before the Court, in effect making it null and void, since the Police no longer had power to institute criminal proceedings by virtue of Section 29 of the Criminal Prosecutions Service Act, with the replacing of section 31 of the Police Act Cap. 330 which had allowed for the bringing to court and prosecuting offenders. Thus, it stated that the institution of the criminal charge which underpins the remand and what is before the court are unlawful, null and void.
The inmate is asking the court to set him free and to drop all charges that have been filed against him. He noted that while in prison he has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment including being placed in the maximum security wing of the prison, being forced to sleep on a wooden structure and having to eat out of a water bottle cut in two. He also complained of not being able to be with his two children.
The outcome of this case could have ramifications on the case against former parliamentarian, Dean Jonas.