British Virgin Islands

Saturday, Oct 31, 2020

Where is Amnesty International? Rise in complaints from inmates | Complaints Commissioner calls for Human Rights body

Where is Amnesty International? Rise in complaints from inmates | Complaints Commissioner calls for Human Rights body

Complaints Commissioner Sheila Brathwaite has called for the creation of a Human Rights Commission in light of heightened complaints from inmates and families of inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison.

According to the 2020 Standing Finance Committee (SFC) report that released recently, Brathwaite said, “the most frequent complaints received pertained to the non-responsiveness of public officers”.

She further indicated to the SFC that “the consistent lack of response to matters leads to matters of the public deteriorating over time”. She said she drafted a memorandum to the Deputy Governor offering “suggestions for training and other initiatives as solutions to the above [issues]”.

Brathwaite said her office had been prompted to visit the prison because of a number of concerning phone calls from inmates at the facility.

“There (at the prison) they found that the library was void of legal material and was able to show them several legal websites for research purposes. She further indicated the need for the Human Rights Commission given various complaints received from families and prisoners.”


Privacy

Meanwhile, the Complaints Commissioner stated that there is a need to amend the Complaints Commission Act to allow for their activities to be more effective.

Brathwaite also said there is a need for government entities to be given privacy in submitting complaints to the Commission.

“She further explained that there was a contradiction in the Complaints Commission Act which states that the officers act as mediators but then states that they should appoint a mediator and should not participate in mediation,” the SFC report said.

The Complaints Commissioner also called for the Complaints Commission Act to be given greater powers to allow for there to be consequences for non-performance within the public service.

She said although there have been improvements within the service, there are still some officers that are ‘nonchalant’ about their duties.

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