MORE than 130 prisoners at the Maximum Security Prison at Golden Grove, Arouca began “day one” of a week-long hunger strike yesterday morning in protest against what they said were “severe delays” in the judicial system.
The prisoners, sources told the Express, refused to eat the meals provided for them yesterday as a form of protest against the length of time they have spent in prison awaiting trial.
Relatives of the incarcerated men said some of the prisoners have been waiting between nine and 11 years for a trial.
“That is quite unacceptable. Some of these men in here waiting for their day in court. Some of these men innocently charged and waiting for a trial to let the truth come out. Others want closure for themselves, for their victims and their families.
“Regardless the reason, you can’t have people waiting so long for a trial date. That is madness. And then worse yet, sometimes if they have matters before the Magistrates’ Court, the police and transport services just don’t come for them or it have no room for some of them in the bus that would take them down and back. Come nah man, that can’t be right,” stated a relative under the condition of anonymity.
He said the prisoners were engaging in a peaceful hunger strike until their needs were met.
Speaking to the Express, president of the Prisons’ Officers Association, Ceron Richards, confirmed a hunger strike was going on at the Maximum Security Prison, but he noted his information was that the strike was only limited to that wing and not to the other prison establishments in the vicinity.
“Yes, I can confirm that there was indeed a hunger strike today. Approximately, 130 inmates of the Maximum Security Prison refused to eat the food that they were given today as a sign of protest, I am informed, against the long delays they claim they are experiencing in the judicial system,” said Richards.
“From what I am told, their protest focuses on this and the police not carrying them to court on time. So from what I am informed, their actions are based solely in relation to court and not related to their treatment by prison officers. This is their means of expressing their disenchantment with what they view as the inability to have their matters dealt with,” he added.
Attempts to reach Prisons Commissioner Conrad Keiran Barrow late yesterday proved futile.