Prison reform group calls for meeting with CJ


Members of a criminal injustice lobby group, co-ordinated by Wayne Kublalsingh and Nazma Muller at the front of the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain on Friday. – ROGER JACOB

A SMALL group of protesters gathered outside the Hall of Justice on Friday to ask the Chief Justice to meet with them to address and fix issues in the criminal justice system. The group included Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, Nazma Muller and activists from a criminal injustice lobby group.

The activists said the group was composed of people whose relatives were being held in the prison system. Activist Rashidah Mawuta said the group was pleading with criminal officers to give court dates to people who had been in the system for a long time.

“There are a lot of people in Remand, there are rising covid19 cases, and we are pleading for release or just court dates. We are coming before the Hall of Justice, the DPP, the Mercy Committee, the Chief Justice, the AG, we are doing this every Friday to get our voices heard and see results.

“Because where else will we go to, because it’s the criminal offices that’s supposed to stand for the rights of the people. These are the places we are going to, we’re not going anywhere else, so we just need our voices heard. The families are here and we are concerned.”

Muller said this was the 12th Friday that the group had congregated in front of the Hall of Justice. “We came to ask Mr Ivor Archie, the Chief Justice, what is going on because we asked him to meet with us six weeks ago and we have received no response.

“The security attempted to eject us and we had to clarify that we are citizens of the Republic and this is our Hall of Justice and we will be here with the relatives until we get justice.” Kublalsingh said the group had met with the Director of Public Prosecution a month ago and had a meeting set with the AG.

“The DPP gave us an undertaking that he would look at a list and he would see if he could release certain categories of prisoners, so we’re awaiting that decision.

“The AG promised to send a representative to meet with us to see if he can keep his promise to look at the prison population and examine certain categories of prisoners who ought not to be there, especially during the covid19 crisis, with the intention of relieving some of the burdens on the system.”

Kublalsingh reminded the public that the prison system is just one part of a whole backlogged system and no crime in TT can be fixed properly unless the criminal justice system is finished.

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