Judge throws out prisoners’ lawsuit

A HIGH Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit by five prisoners on remand against the Health Minister and Commissioner of Prison for failing to implement covid19 regulations for the prison.

On Thursday, Justice Robin Mohammed dismissed an application for judicial review filed by the five prisoners who also sought the court’s permission to represent a larger group of 509.

The group also unsuccessfully sought an injunction which asked that the prison commissioner provide them with cleaning agents and protective wear, and ensure that their cells are professionally sanitised one a week. The judge also refused their request for immediate testing of the prison population, not just checking temperatures, and to provide reusable and washable cloth masks.

The group, in their application filed in May before TT’s second wave of covid19, said the matter was a life-and-death situation as their health was at risk. In dismissing their lawsuit, Mohammed held that the court was of the opinion that the commissioner has implanted proper protocols and measures within the prisons which conforms to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and those from the health ministry.

He said a staff order issued by the commissioner, ensured a safe environment and prevention of infection or spread of covid19 in the prison, therefore, the prisoners could not contend their right to life was being infringed by alleged inaction by the prison authorities.

In their lawsuit, the prisoners said the minister and commissioner failed to ensure public health covid19 regulations were applicable to the prisons and prisoners and that they failed to protect their right to life and health. In his decision, Mohammed said from the evidence supplied to the court – photographs of the cells at the Maximum Security Prison – showed one was untidy and unkempt, but there was no evidence of other cells being in the same condition.

In dismissing their arguments, the judge ordered attorneys for the prisoners and the State to file arguments on the question and quantification of costs which he will determine without a hearing.

The five prisoners – Dexter Simon, Timothy Mohammed, Lawrence Diaz, Kevin Patrick, and Miguel Esis – were represented by attorneys Farai Hove Masasai, Sallian Holdip-Francis, and Antonya Pierre while Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein, Adam Hosein, Kristal Madhosingh, Kadine Matthews, and Hillary Muddeen represented the commissioner and the Attorney General.

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"Judge throws out prisoners’ lawsuit"

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