PHILIPSBURG:--- Persons that commit crimes must be prosecuted if they are sufficient evidence to prove that those suspects are guilty of the crimes they are accused of, while a person may be a suspect of a crime, it is clear that a person is innocent until proven guilty and even if they are guilty of the most heinous crimes, they have human rights protection that must be respected. As for now St. Maarten being a country within the Kingdom must abide by the treaties on human rights, BUPO, and EVRM.
Several suspects and convicted criminals have been complaining about police brutality, inhumane treatment, abuse of power by law enforcement officers and most of all the violation of their human rights while incarcerated. Many times these complaints go unnoticed.
One of the persons that defend suspects that are charged with the most heinous crimes ensures that the prosecutors and police follow the laws of the judicial system, that person is no other than Attorney at Law Brenda Brooks, a local attorney that is not afraid of speaking out and doing what is necessary to hold prosecutors on St. Maarten accountable when they violate the rights of suspects. One would think that the detectives that arrested Attorney Brooks last Wednesday know that the suspect that they arrested also have rights and this is one that knows her rights and the laws, it was expected that the Prosecutor’s Office would ensure that Brooks rights were not violated and that she receives adequate medical treatment especially knowing she is a sworn officer of the court. Interrogating a suspect while under medication or sick can be considered as torture and this should not be overlooked by those that hold the powers of this country.
Attorney Brooks has more than one ailment, which has to be treated, and she also has to get the necessary rest “sleep” after taking her medication. However, the detectives that arrested her did not think that their “big fish” has rights and they also did not think they have to abide by the treaties such as human rights the BUPO and EVRM treaty.
As indicated in the press bulletin the prosecutor office stated on Friday that while the judge of instruction ruled the arrest to be lawful and extended the pretrial detention, they took the decision to release the Attorney Brooks due to a medical emergency. They went on to say that the sick bay at Pointe Blanche prison was not adequate and as such releasing the suspect was their only choice, one would wonder if the Prosecutor’s Office thought of the St. Maarten Medical Center and if they know that if a suspect is dangerous or could collude with the other suspects then they could have kept her at SMMC, but the truth is they had no more reason to keep their “big fish” behind bars so they chose a lousy excuse to say why they released her after 6 pm on Friday.
One has to ask when did they (Prosecutor’s) realize that the suspect was ill and she was on medication, was it before they went before the judge or was it after several doctors told them that the suspect needed medication and proper rest.
SMN News understands that while Attorney Brooks was given her medication, she was interrogated when she was supposed to rest in order for her medication to take effect, instead of respecting the human rights of every suspect the detectives chose to interrogate Attorney Brooks while she was under medication, even after they got all the information they needed, one being an email that one of the immigration officers sent to Attorney Brooks demanding monies which was never paid to her, and the mere fact that Attorney Brooks informed the supervisor of the immigration officers that are in custody for bribery and human smuggling, they chose to deprive Attorney Brooks of proper rest and medication and move on with further interrogation while she is medicated something that can be considered as torture.
Besides the statements, Attorney Brooks gave the detectives, the immigration officer that had contact with Attorney Brooks told the investigators that Brooks did not pay them for any services. The coded email also indicated the same. But yet, the investigators chose to keep Brooks behind bars until late Friday afternoon and proceeded to court for an extension.
It should be made clear that this article is not meant to protect Attorney Brooks or any other suspect, but the main purpose is to remind the inexperienced and junior prosecutors that are shipped to St. Maarten that they need to follow the rule of law for all suspects and not treat people with revenge because they seemingly have an ax to grind with that person. Another point that has to be clear that suspicion is not evidence and while the detectives and those investigating may have a suspicion, they need to know that suspicion is not evidence and cannot be used in court.
Supervisor not held accountable for not taking actions when she was informed --- Is she guilty of dereliction of duty?
SMN News learned that the detectives questioned the supervisor that Brooks informed of the incident which occurred two to three years ago and she admitted partially that she remembered that Attorney Brooks had called her and informed her of what her subordinates were doing. Indeed she did not give a full statement, claiming she could remember every word. Certainly, that supervisor knows that if she told the whole truth then she would have incriminated herself since she herself did not take the necessary actions to inform her superiors or to report the matter to the prosecutor’s office. This alone shows that this supervisor can be held for dereliction of duties. But of course, the investigators have to protect one of their own and probably get her to say what they want. Clearly, the detectives who interrogated this supervisor did not go to the very end to see if she too is involved in the scheme to take bribes but instead accepted the statement that is convenient to her and her colleagues.
Certainly, these are questions that everyone has and for sure there would never be an answer to these questions.
SMN News took the necessary time to highlight some of the important articles on human rights and imprisonment.
HUMAN Rights and imprisonment.
1. BUPO (based on universal declaration on human rights 1948 UN)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights UN 1966 (ICCPR)
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.
1 Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
2 Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
3 Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should the occasion arise, for execution of the judgment.
4 Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
5 Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
1 All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
(a) Accused persons shall save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons;
(b) Accused juvenile persons shall be separated from adults and brought as speedily as possible for adjudication.
3 The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation. Juvenile offenders shall be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status.
2. EVRM (European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) 1950
Article 3. - Prohibition of torture
No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 5. - Right to liberty and security
1 Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
(a) the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;
(b) the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation prescribed by law;
(c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offense or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offense or fleeing after having done so;
(d) the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;
(e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;
(f) the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorized entry into the country or of a person against whom the action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition.
2 Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.
3 Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.
4 Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.
5 Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this Article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
3. ECPT (European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment)
The ECPT is directly related to Article 3 of the EVRM and means that no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This prohibition is absolute and the EVRM doesn’t provide an exception possibility. In detention, it often regards a number of factors which together are so weighty that the treatment of a detainee can be considered as inhumane or degrading
Right on medical care (international regulations
• Art. 39-48 of the European Prison Rules;
• Art. 22-26 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;
• Principles 24-26 van get Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment;
• Art. 9 of the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners;
• Principles 1-6 of the Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;