Women awaiting trial for murder, could be case of self defence

THERE must be more awareness about women locked up in jail awaiting trial, some for many years, particularly those arrested for murder.

Addressing an inter-faith service at the Holy Trinity Cathedray, for the ceremonial opening of the 2019-2020 law term yesterday, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, said there was still much work to be done in this area.

"We want more awareness because we have visited the prisons and we are looking at remand generally, and we discovered how many women in remand are victims of domestic violence. We need to find a different way to address these issues because I don't think it is right for women (to be) 11 years in remand waiting (for trial) when it may have well been (a case of) self defence.

"It is a serious issue that people seem to have forgotten, but must be aware of. The first step is to bring awareness and, if need be, litigation."

Antoine said her faculty will lead a delegation next week to present a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, to build awareness on remand issues, as they apply to women on remand who have been arrested for murder, but were victims of domestic violence and who now languish in jails, some of them for over 12 years.

"Women are mothers and are leaving children behind. and there is a mandatory death penalty, but hopefully when the case does call you can have some publication, but there is no guarantee, so the whole situation is really quite horrendous. I think there are forgotten women in our prisons. There are about 300 women and most of them are in for murder. There is still so much work to do despite these excellent right steps."

Antoine said the remand travesty was a collective and institutional failure which offended the basic norms of the justice system and will require a piercing commitment from many stakeholders to resolve, as Jamaica, for example, has done.

"There are many other troubling issues that we must confront, so we are in the middle of an unfinished journey in transformation."


"Women awaiting trial for murder, could be case of self defence"

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