By Alexis R. Milan
The Human Rights Commission of Belize this week joined community activist, Yaya Marin-Coleman in condemning the conditions detainees must endure at the holding cells of the Queen Street Police Station, and at most police stations countrywide.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Commission explained that upon hearing of the protest, they assembled an ad hoc team of inspectors, comprised of members of the Justices of the Peace Association, the Ombudsman and the President of the Commission to launch an investigation.
The inspectors, who conducted spot checks at numerous detention centers, described the facilities as “woefully inadequate” and not meeting even the most basic standards of respect for human dignity.
“In the strongest of terms, we condemn the absence of mechanisms and the will to resolve a primal human rights issue which ranges from simple sanitation to entrenched managerial indifference,” the Commission declared.
Yaya Marin-Coleman began the first of the sustained protests on November 3, to raise awareness about the inhumane conditions and condemned the relevant authorities for allowing the situation to persist. Yaya vowed to continue to protest every Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until something is done.
She explained that the conditions are unsanitary, reeking of urine and feces, and that the prisoners are not allowed to shower until just before they go to court, which can take up to two days. Coleman said that the general public has been very receptive of her initiative and have been supporting her efforts to push for change.