Pointe Blanche:--- Eleven convicted prisoners most of whom are members of the Inmates Association were transferred to the Philipsburg Police Station on Saturday confirmed Attorney at Law Shaira Bommel. SMN News learnt that since last week Sunday the prisoners of Pointe Blanche Prison have been kept 24 hours a day in their cells and are not being allowed to have visitors because the Inmates Association informed management of the Pointe Blanche Prison that they were going on strike as of Sunday last week. The Inmates Association also outlined their grievances to the prison management and their main reason for going into industrial action. SMN News further learnt that some of the concerns of the prisoners relate to human rights violations and the forceful transfer of prisoners from the Pointe Blanche Prison to the Simpson Bay Police Outpost on a daily basis. Attorney at Law Shaira Bommel said in an invited comment said that since the prisoners went on strike the management of the prison reacted with revenge by locking down all the prisoners and denying them their visitation rights. Bommel said since last week the prisoners are having serious problems because the prison guards are refusing to distribute their meals saying that is not part of their job description. She said on Friday afternoon the prison guards decided that they will not distribute the meals to the prisoners and they wanted the Inmates Association to appoint a few prisoners to distribute the meals but that was not possible because all of the working prisoners are on strike. Bommel said when the association refused to appoint inmates to distribute the meals the management of the prison decided to open one section of the prison so that the prisoners could come out and serve themselves. Bommel said when that section was open some of the prisoners refused to go back into their cells because they wanted to take a shower. "Can you imagine some of the prisoners did not bathe all week because there is no shower in their cells. All the prisoners wanted to do is to take a shower. There are two brothers who decided to make some noise and they are the ones who took away the keys from a guard and opened the other section of the prison because those prisoners were not fed the night before. When the inmates refused to go back into their cells, the prison management reacted by refusing to feed the other prisoners who were still locked in their cells. The prison management is punishing all the prisoners collectively and that is illegal. The prisoners that are working are the ones on strike but those that are not working are also being punished by the prison management." Bommel said that the prison director Rudsel Ricardo told her that he had proof that the board members of the Inmates Association are the ones threatening the other prisoners that are willing to work. She said she asked Ricardo to provide her with that proof because if that is the case she will step down as their lawyer, but up to now the prison management cannot show the proof they said they have. Bommel said that eleven prisoners all of whom were convicted for very serious crimes were taken to the Philipsburg Police Station on Saturday. "I don't know how long they intend to keep the inmates in Philipsburg but if Ricardo cannot show the proof he has then I will file a case against him on Monday morning. The inmates at the Pointe Blanche Prison are being abused and their basic human rights are being violated.
SMN News made several attempts to reach the prison management by phone, our reporter even visited the prison on Saturday but Ricardo refused to comment on the ongoing unrest at the house of detention. SMN News also made several attempts to reach the Minister of Justice Roland Duncan by phone and he too could not be reached.
In the meantime, Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos said he will not comment on what is taking place at the Pointe Blanche Prison. Mos even refused to confirm or deny the transfer of the convicted prisoners to the Philipsburg Police station even though he is the one that informed Attorney at Law Shaira Bommel of the measures taken by the police on Saturday when they were called to the prison to render assistance.
Police Report on Inmates Transfer.
On Saturday June 2, 2012 at approximately 9:00am, a phone call came into the Central Police Dispatch from the House of Detention in Point Blanche requesting police assistance. The call was regarding inmates who had started a protest led by the "Inmates Association." The protest that started peacefully on Friday June 1st had become extremely serious on Saturday June 2nd and was seemingly getting out of control. The personnel of the prison that were on duty during the protest would not have been able to handle the situation if it became worse. At one point during the protest, a set of keys were taken away by the inmates from a female prison guard. The Police Management immediately called in personnel that were off duty to report to the Philipsburg Police Station. The VKS were also informed of the situation and they in turn mobilized several of their members, who immediately came in to assist the police. After being informed by the Director of the prison Mr. Rudsel Ricardo of the developments within the prison, a police extraction team lead by the Police K-9 were sent in and removed several inmates from their cells. These inmates who were the main cause for this disturbance were relocated. In doing so, order and tranquility was immediately restored within the prison system. Some inmates resisted during this operation however their resistance was quickly broken. The Chief Public Prosecutor Hans Mos and the Attorney General Taco Stein have been informed of the situation.