Categorized | Local, News

The first lawsuit filed against HM Prison in Montserrat

by Staff Reporter

Mr. Warren Cassell, speaking at the Cultural Centre

Mr. Warren Cassell, speaking at the Cultural Centre

For the fist time in the history of Montserrat a former inmate has sued Her Majesty’s Prison seeking redress from the court for breaches of human rights and constitutional privileges.  Attorney-at-law Warren Cassell has filed legal action against five prison officers – the acting Superintendent Theodore Woodley, Acting Deputy Superintendent Rupert Harris, Senior Officers Vaughn Ryan, Jason Bradford and Oswald West.

On February 5, 2014 Warren Cassell filed the lawsuit seeking leave for judicial review, asking the court to rule on 35 claims including the assessment and payment of damages to Mr. Cassell for breach of his rights, constitutional and/or otherwise during his 16 month imprisonment.

The Action brought by Cassell stems from the treatment he was subjected to during his prison spell. He alleges numerous atrocities were carried out by prison officers.

According to Cassell, such atrocities included unnecessary strip searches and the video taping of such searches, refusing him visits by family members (pending hearing of disciplinary matters), and denial of reading material. Questioned by The Montserrat Reporter (TMR), Cassell accused: “what is frightening is that the officer blatantly disobeys the Prison Rules that are so pellucid and then make statements like ‘the prison is not subject to any superior body’.”

He alleges that one such incident was where six or more prisoners wanted to bring an action against the Prison and drafted Application and affidavits to the High Court for consideration. Such documents were to be sent out to be typed and were held up by the Deputy Superintendent Rupert Harris.

He claims that It was not the first time Mr. Harris held up documents sent by prisoners to His Excellency the Governor in the mid 2012, publicly indicated that in a letter from prisoners.

Whilst making his case, according to Cassell the fact that persons liberty are restricted does not prevent them from seeking redress in the High Court.  “In fact, the right to seek redress in the High Court is a constitutionally protected right, and the actions of the Deputy Superintendent is tantamount to fettering this right,” Cassell indicated.

Among his other complaints, Cassell made references also to the Visiting Committee whose duty it is to visit the prison on a regular basis and take the concerns of the prisoners to the Governor.  However, in most cases Cassell says, the complaints and concerns of the prisoners fall on deaf ears with the Visiting Committee members dismissing the prisoners as telling them, “keep praying”.

While prisoners have brought legal action against prison officials in the United Kingdom and other metropolitan countries, it is first time in Montserrat that a local inmate is bringing an action claiming breach of human rights.

Obtaining leave is the first step in the Judicial Review process.  Once leave is granted then the action could proceed.  The Application for leave is expected to be heard in March, 2014.

The Governor is not named in this suit, but the prison falls directly under his control; he has responsibility and oversight, as can be seen he is mentioned frequently in the complaints. TMR has raised some of these very issues and complaints with the Governor before, as well as with some of the visiting prison authorities, who all promised the matters would receive their attention.

 

 

Comments are closed.

TMR print pages

Newsletter

Archives

CARICOM – Staff Vacancy

CXC HEADQUARTERS - Executive Search

https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d

A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by Staff Reporter

Mr. Warren Cassell, speaking at the Cultural Centre

Mr. Warren Cassell, speaking at the Cultural Centre

For the fist time in the history of Montserrat a former inmate has sued Her Majesty’s Prison seeking redress from the court for breaches of human rights and constitutional privileges.  Attorney-at-law Warren Cassell has filed legal action against five prison officers – the acting Superintendent Theodore Woodley, Acting Deputy Superintendent Rupert Harris, Senior Officers Vaughn Ryan, Jason Bradford and Oswald West.

Insert Ads Here

On February 5, 2014 Warren Cassell filed the lawsuit seeking leave for judicial review, asking the court to rule on 35 claims including the assessment and payment of damages to Mr. Cassell for breach of his rights, constitutional and/or otherwise during his 16 month imprisonment.

The Action brought by Cassell stems from the treatment he was subjected to during his prison spell. He alleges numerous atrocities were carried out by prison officers.

According to Cassell, such atrocities included unnecessary strip searches and the video taping of such searches, refusing him visits by family members (pending hearing of disciplinary matters), and denial of reading material. Questioned by The Montserrat Reporter (TMR), Cassell accused: “what is frightening is that the officer blatantly disobeys the Prison Rules that are so pellucid and then make statements like ‘the prison is not subject to any superior body’.”

He alleges that one such incident was where six or more prisoners wanted to bring an action against the Prison and drafted Application and affidavits to the High Court for consideration. Such documents were to be sent out to be typed and were held up by the Deputy Superintendent Rupert Harris.

He claims that It was not the first time Mr. Harris held up documents sent by prisoners to His Excellency the Governor in the mid 2012, publicly indicated that in a letter from prisoners.

Whilst making his case, according to Cassell the fact that persons liberty are restricted does not prevent them from seeking redress in the High Court.  “In fact, the right to seek redress in the High Court is a constitutionally protected right, and the actions of the Deputy Superintendent is tantamount to fettering this right,” Cassell indicated.

Among his other complaints, Cassell made references also to the Visiting Committee whose duty it is to visit the prison on a regular basis and take the concerns of the prisoners to the Governor.  However, in most cases Cassell says, the complaints and concerns of the prisoners fall on deaf ears with the Visiting Committee members dismissing the prisoners as telling them, “keep praying”.

While prisoners have brought legal action against prison officials in the United Kingdom and other metropolitan countries, it is first time in Montserrat that a local inmate is bringing an action claiming breach of human rights.

Obtaining leave is the first step in the Judicial Review process.  Once leave is granted then the action could proceed.  The Application for leave is expected to be heard in March, 2014.

The Governor is not named in this suit, but the prison falls directly under his control; he has responsibility and oversight, as can be seen he is mentioned frequently in the complaints. TMR has raised some of these very issues and complaints with the Governor before, as well as with some of the visiting prison authorities, who all promised the matters would receive their attention.