The prisoners plan to keep up the hunger strike until they see improvement in the judicial system or until they get an assurance from either President George Maxwell Richards, Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Attorney General Bridgid Annisette-George or Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson that measures will be put in place to make sure their matters are processed on time.
A prisons source said the prisoners complain daily about the slow pace of the judicial system.
“Everyday the prisoners are complaining that they are at the Remand Yard for years upon years and their matters are not even completed in the lower court or if it is completed, they are still awaiting a trial date for their matters to be heard in the high court,” a concerned prisons officer said.
The officer, a spokesman for the prisoners, said they are even considering sending a petition to the United Nations (UN).
“I think they feel that their cries for justice and a swift justice system will be heard by the UN and they also feel that the UN can do something positive for them,” the officer said.
The officer said a prisoner, who was re-indicted for a 2005 murder is yet to have, his case called in the magistrates court.
“He has a story to tell himself because his case was dismissed after certain discrepancies that were revealed during the preliminary inquiry 11 months after it commenced,” the officer said.
“One year and two months after the case was dismissed, he was re-indicted on the same charge.
“Up to now he remains remanded here at the Golden Grove Prison awaiting a date for trial,” he added.
The officer said the prisoners felt neglected and needed re-assurance from senior prisons and legal officials.
“Time and time again the prisoners, through the news and reading of the newspapers, see how magistrates and judges complain about the failing judicial system but their question is, what is the Chief Justice and the Attorney General, not forgetting the Director of Public Prosecutions, doing about it?” he said.
Newsday was told that there are about 450 prisoners at the Remand Yard but about 150 of them, in one of the wings, plan to go on the hunger strike today.
“They are really desperate in having their cases heard and justice being served.
“The prisoners are totally fed-up with the continued failing judicial system and want immediate re-dress at whatever cost.
“They are even prepared to face discrimination and bashing from the prison authorities but think the hunger strike would be effective and will even bring an intervention by the President,” the officer said.
Today’s expected hunger strike is not the only one that has hit the prisons.
In May 2006 over 350 inmates at the Remand Yard, Golden Grove Prison embarked on a hunger strike for better conditions.
Also in May 2006, African prisoners at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca threatened to commit suicide by refusing to eat if they were not deported or released.
Prisoner Cecelia Bedeau at the Women’s Prison along with other women prisoners participated in a hunger strike over the poor quality of food.
In August 2005, more than 60 prisoners on Death Row also took up a hunger strike for the adverse prison conditions.