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Jan 30, 2019

ComPol Chester Williams Says Detention Cell to be Renovated

The deplorable and filthy conditions of the holding cells at the Queen Street Police Station have shocked many. The images show the deteriorating detention cells and the unsanitary restroom conditions, which have moved the Human Rights Commission to speak out.  On Tuesday, Vice President of the Human Rights Commission of Belize Kevin Arthurs said that they are disappointed that people are still being detained in cells that are unfit and unhygienic for humans. Commissioner Chester Williams addressed the matter today, saying that not too long ago, the Police Department had fixed up the facilities, but they were destroyed – apparently at the hands of some of the same persons detained in the space. He said before the images were circulated on Facebook, the Belize Police Department had already requested an estimate to determine the cost for renovations. At this time, they are exploring two options to refit the cells. Williams says that they will also review the opportunity to install bunkers in the holding cell for detainees to sleep or rest.

 

Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“I have been aware of the matter and have since directed that a contractor be brought in to look at the situation and see what we can do to enhance it. It is a very funny situation in the sense that that area was recently repaired, not too long ago. From then to now to see the state it is in, it makes me wonder – as someone said it is not the police who have it like that. You will find that many times when detainees are detained, they are the ones who damage those facilities. So, we need to try find a way to do it so it can prevent them from damaging it. Because really and truly it looks bad and I honestly believe that put people in that situation is tantamount to inhumane treatment. So, yes, we have to address it. We will try to see if we can take out all the tiles because I don’t think tiles should be used in cell blocks. Urine will go under the tiles and create a stench. So, we want to remove all the tiles and redo the bathroom issue and use some kind of paint or facing that we can use on the bare cement to be able to prevent water or urine from seeping into the cement foundation. It will be a very costly venture but I think if we do it that way, we will get better results and it will last much longer and it will be a healthier environment. The next option is to put the bathroom away from the cellblock so that when the prisoner wants to use the bathroom, the prisoner will be escorted to the bathroom by the police and that way we can manage how the bathroom is being used. And if anybody goes to damage it, then we will know who damage it there and then.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, what you are talking about is medium to long term solution – what is the situation now?”

 

Chester Williams

“Well, the situation now is that instruction has been given that the place is cleaned and even the constitution tells you that it is the prisoner’s responsibility to clean his or her surroundings. So, when it comes to dealing with the issue of inhumane treatment and punishment and ensuring that the facility where prisoner is kept is cleaned, it says it doesn’t include where the prisoner is allowed to clean his environment. So, the prisoners who are detained, it is their responsibility to ensure that the environment within which they are detained is kept clean.”

 

Reporter

“But it is the police’s responsibility to make sure that they do it?”

 

Chester Williams

“That it happens, yes.”

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