Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Press Association Calls for Immediate Investigation into Assault on Newspaper Photographer by Police

I am distressed to hear of this assault on my gentle colleague, Gleaner photographer Rudolph Brown. I wish him a speedy recovery. Below is a Statement from PAJ President Dionne Jackson-Miller.

Press Association Calls for Immediate Investigation into Assault on Newspaper Photographer by Police

February 14, 2018: The Press Association of Jamaica is calling on the Police High Command and INDECOM to launch an immediate investigation into reports of an unprovoked assault by the police on newspaper photographer Rudolph Brown on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.

Mr. Brown has reported to us that while in the Cross Roads area, he witnessed a commotion apparently caused by attempts by the police to arrest a man. He started to use his phone to record the incident. On being told to stop by the police sergeant on location, he says he clearly identified himself as a member of the media, both verbally and by showing his company ID card which was around his neck.

Mr. Brown says he continued to record the proceedings and heard the police sergeant tell a constable to pepper spray him. He says the police constable sprayed pepper spray directly into his eyes, causing him severe pain and distress, which continued for hours and worsened later in the evening.

The Press Association of Jamaica condemns unequivocally this blatant abuse of force by the police, and calls for an immediate investigation and response by the Police High Command and INDECOM.

Dionne Jackson Miller



"A Free Press, Oxygen of Democracy"

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Solidarity with Yugge Farrell

Solidarity with Yugge Farrell: Regional Statement Amend the Mental Health Act of St. Vincent and the Grenadines NOW 

We the undersigned, condemn in the strongest possible terms, the persecution and mistreatment of Ms. Yugge Farrell by the legal, medical, and political authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We are in full solidarity with Ms. Farrell and those Vincentians who stand with her.
Ms. Farrell was arrested on January 4th, 2018 and charged with the use of abusive language to Karen Duncan- Gonsalves, the wife of Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and daughter-in-law of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. After pleading not guilty, an application was made by the prosecutor for Ms. Farrell to be confined to the Mental Health Centre for two weeks for psychiatric evaluation, as allowed under the nation’s Mental Health Act. 

However, according to a statement issued by the St. Vincent and Grenadines Human Rights Association (SVG HRA) - an independent Civil Society Organization - there was no apparent supporting evidence or behavior by Ms. Farrell which warranted the prosecutor and magistrate seeking and deciding to commit Ms. Farrell to the Mental Health Center. Furthermore, it appears that medication was administered to Ms. Farrell although the Mental Health Act only speaks to observation and evaluation of persons and does not include any mechanism to oversee involuntary admission and treatment practices. Also problematic is the fact that the Mental Health Center does not currently have trained psychiatrists or psychologists on staff. After the initial observation period passed, Ms. Farrell was detained for a third week and only released on bail on January 29th, 2018. 

The mistreatment of Yugge Farrell raises several serious concerns about the probable abuse of the existing Mental Health Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We ask- is commitment to a mental institution for use of insulting language a regular occurrence in SVG? We join the SVG HRA in questioning the validity of the observation report and treatment administered to Ms. Farrell. We note the alleged romantic relationship that Ms. Farrell has publicly claimed with Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and caution those who rush to dismiss this incident as simply a matter of ‘love gone bad’ to reflect on the fact that state entities can easily use the excuse of mental instability to vilify, discredit, and institutionalize any critic or person(s) deemed a threat or embarrassment to the established political order.  

As human rights defenders, feminists, and persons who care about well-being and justice in the Caribbean and beyond, we condemn the actions of the judicial and medical authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and their violation of the rights of Ms. Yugge Farrell. We deplore the misuse of mental health policies to oppress individuals and advance goals other than the safeguarding of wellness. Now that Ms. Farrell’s detention in the Mental Health Center has ended, we support calls for an investigation into the decision to detain and medicate her. We support her family members and demand independent medical and psychiatric care for her. 

We stand with the St. Vincent Human Rights Association who urge an immediate review and modification of the existing Mental Health Act so that it becomes compliant with international norms and standards to prevent abuses and protect human rights. 

Finally, we remind the government and authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines of their commitment to ensure their citizens’ right to free speech and protection from state persecution. The eyes of the world are watching you.  

There must be no more violations of the rights of Yugge Farrell or any other Vincentian. Amend the Mental Health Act of St. Vincent and the Grenadines now. 

In solidarity, 
1. Andaiye – Guyana 
2. Karen De Souza – Red Thread, Guyana 
3. Sherlina Nageer MPH – Guyana 
4. D. Alissa Trotz – Canada 
5. Jospehine Whitehead – Guyana 
6. Angelique V. Nixon – Trinidad and Tobago 
7. Gordon Forte – Guyana 
8. Delores Robinson – GROOTS, Trinidad and Tobago 
9. Tonya Haynes – Barbados 
10. Gina Singh-Trotz – USA 
11. Akola Thompson – Guyana 
12. Anya Dover – Guyana 
13. Indera Persaud – Jamaica 
14. Maya Trotz – USA 
15. Ronelle King – Barbados 
16. Julio Thijs – Canada 
17. Verna St Rose Greaves – Trinidad and Tobago 
18. Dr Nastassia Rambarran – Barbados 
19. Mellissa Ifill – Guyana 
20. Salima Bacchus-Hinds – Guyana 
21. Fatimah Jackson-Best – Canada 
22. Charlene Wilkinson – Guyana 
23. Stephanie Leitch – Womantra, Trinidad and Tobago 
24. Krysta Bisnauth – Guyana 
25. David Khan – Canada 
26. Mosa Telford – Guyana 
27. Jessica Joseph – Trinidad/ St. Lucia 
28. Paige Jennan Andrew – WE-Change, Jamaica
29. Kimalee Phillip – Grenada/ Canada 
30. Lana Finikin – Jamaica 
31. Romola Lucas – USA 
32. Nailah John-Price – Leave Out Violence in SVG, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
33. Shanya Cordis – Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Spelman College, USA 
34. Marcus Day – St. Lucia 
35. Zina Edwards – Guyana
 36. Karen Philip – Trinidad and Tobago 
37. Savitri Persaud – Canada 
38. Roy Kingston – Guyana 
39. Simone Leid – The Women Speak Project, Trinidad and Tobago
40. Ayesha Constable – Jamaica 
41. Kala Ramnath – UK 
42. Oluatoyin Alleyne – Guyana 
43. Naicelis Rozema Elkins – USA 
44. Maggie Schmeitz – Stichting Ultimate Purpose, Suriname
45. Alicia Wallace – Equality Bahamas/Hollaback, Barbados 
46. Derwayne Willis – Guyana 
47. Gerhard Ramsaroop – Guyana 
48. Raquel Thomas- Caesar – Guyana
49. Vidyaratha Kisson – Guyana 
50. Dawn Van Rossum – Antigua and Barbuda 
51. Shonnet Moore – Guyana 52. Lauricia Akeisha Henry – Antigua 53. Michelle Springer – Barbados 54. Chantal Antoine – USA 55. Holly Bynoe – ARC Magazine, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 56. Hilary Nicholson – Video for Change, Jamaica 57. Vashty Maharaj – Central Beat magazine, Trinidad and Tobago 58. Tandieka Johnson – USA 59. Reine Joseph – St. Lucia  60. Peggy Antrobus – St. Vincent and the Grenadines 61. Honor Ford Smith – Canada/ Jamaica 62. Alexandrina Wong – Antigua 63. Marlon Mills – St. Vincent and the Grenadines 64. Marguerite Allen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica 65. Vanessa Lumbley – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica 66. Shaneka Allen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica 67. Althea Cohen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica 68. Olive Edwards – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica 69. Eunice Graham – Jamaica 70. Beverly Bain – Canada/ Trinidad 71. Jean Lowrie-Chin – Jamaica 72. Erin Greene, CAFRA – Bahamas 73. Ann Maria Diran – Suriname 74. Marsha Hinds-Layne – NOW, Barbados 75. Maria Fontenelle – ECADE, Eastern Caribbean 76. Randall Theodule – St. Lucia 77. Majhon John – Mental Health Provider, USA 78. Maxine Allen – St. Vincent and the Grenadines 79. Cherrise Mcdowall – St. Vincent and the Grenadines 80. Jermain Ostiana – Curacao 81. Diane Cummins – Conscious Exchanges, Barbados 82. Nicole S. Hendrickson – Firecircle!, Trinidad and Tobago 83. Judith Wedderburn – Jamaica 84. Keturah Cecelia Babb – Order of Nyahbinghi, Dominica/ Jamaica 85. Sendy Brown – Canada 86. Arielle Aska – Antigua 87. Patricia Sheerettan-Bisnauth – Guyana 88. Sharda Ganga – PROJECKTA Citizens’ Initiative for Participation and Good Governance, Suriname 89. Mark Jacobs – Guyana 90. Nadeen Spence – Jamaica 91. Nesha Edwards – St. Vincent and the Grenadines 92. Catherine Sealys – Raise Your Voice, St. Lucia 93. Jamela Khan – Trinidad and Tobago 94. Carinya Sharples – Guyana 95. Priscila Francisco Pascoal – Brazil 96. Audrey Roberts – Bahamas
97. Emma Lewis – Jamaica 98. Ruth Osman Rose – Trinidad and Tobago 99. Beverly Nelson – Grenada 100. N’Delamiko Lord – Trinidad/ Barbados 101. Melissa Matthews – Trinidad and Tobago 102. Linnette Vassell – Jamaica 103. Bridget Lewis – Canada 104. Joan French – Jamaica 105. Ulelli Verbeke – Guyana 106. Jean La Rose – Guyana 107. Robert Cuffy – USA 108. Mark Moseley – Guyana 109. Derek Gomes – Guyana 110. Elton McRae – Guyana 111. Andrew Campbell – Guyana 112. John Shevrattan – Canada 113. Shayla Murrell – Barbados 114. Colin Robinson – CAISO, Trinidad and Tobago 115. Sasha Robinson – USA 116. Lisa Outar – USA 117. Bianca Wagner – Bahamas 118. Louby Georges – Rights Bahamas, Bahamas 119. Stephanie Stfleur – Rights Bahamas, Bahamas 120. Jackson Petit – Bahamas 121. Granville Knight – Jamaica 122. Jasmin Renee Wu – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago 123. Huiming Wu – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago 124. Celine Leid – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago 125. Ava Turnquest – Bahamas 126. Kevon Mc Kenna – Trinidad and Tobago 127. Winy Marango – Vanutu 128. Aroona Ramsahai – Trinidad and Tobago 129. Kenene Senior – Jamaica 130. Jean-Claude Cournand – 2 Cents Movement, Trinidad and Tobago 131. Mavis Mainu – Ghana 132. Soyini Ayanna Forde – Trinidad and Tobago 133. Alysia Christiani – USA 134. Namela Baynes-Henry – Rainbow House, Guyana 135. Tamisha Lee – Jamaica 136. Natalie Bennett – USA 137. Jamal Gilbert – Guyana 138. Rupa Singh – Guyana 139. Henna Guicherit – Foundation Women’s Rights Center, Suriname 140. Sandra Latibeaudiere – Jamaica 141. Shirley Pryce – Jamaica Household Workers Union, Jamaica 142. Marion Bethel – Bahamas 143. Carol Narcisse – Jamaica 144. Nadia Sagar – Guyana
145. Peta- Anne Baker – UWI, Jamaica 146. Ruel Johnson – Guyana 147. Nan Peacocke – Guyana/ St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada 148. Roslyn John – St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada 149. Norwell Hinds – Guyana 150. Thomas Eugene – St. Lucia 151. Delven Adams – Guyana 152. Halimah DeShong – St. Vincent and the Grenadines 153. Bianca Wagner – Equality Bahamas, Bahamas 154. Ashlee Burnett – The 2 Cents Movement, Trinidad and Tobago 155. Crystal Brizan – CAFRA, Trinidad and Tobago 156. Danuta Radzik – Guyana 157. Adriana Sandrine Isaac-Rattan – International Women's Resource Network (IWRN), Trinidad and Tobago 158. Jacqueline Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago 159. Terrence Blackman – Guyana 160. Japhet Jackman – Guyana 161. Margo King – St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada 162. Alana Benjamin - Antigua & Barbuda 163. Natasha Yhap – Guyana 164. Clairmont Mali Chung – Stateless 165. Dianne Madray – Let The Women Speak, Guyana 166. Brenda Greaves – St. Vincent and the Grenadines 167. Sebastian Prescod – Canada 168. Sally Erdle – St. Vincent and the Grenadines 169. Maxine Allen – Canada 170. Sharon Watkis – USA 171. Lilian Ferrier – Foundation for Human Development, Suriname 172. M. Jacqui Alexander – Trinidad and Tobago 173. Heather. Y Deane – Past Chairman Mental Health Commission of Barbados, Barbados 174. Help and Shelter – Guyana 175. Leith Dunn – Jamaica 176. Vanda Radzik – Women’s Rights Advocate, Guyana 177. Florence Goldson – Belize 178. Indranie Deyal – Trinidad and Tobago 179. Wintress White – Red Thread, Guyana 180. Joy Marcus – Red Thread, Guyana 181. Halima Khan – Red Thread, Guyana  182. Vanessa Ross - Red Thread, Guyana 183. Susan Collymore – Grassroots Women Across Race (GWAR), Guyana 184. Paul Anthony Odell 185. Joel Simpson – SASOD, Guyana 186. Ann Harvey – Guyana 187. Andrea Weekes – Leave Out Violence Now St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada 188. Dennis Atwell – Guyana 189. Letitia Pratt – Bahamas 190. Shorna James – Canada 191. Amory Cumberbatch – USA 192. Jeanette Campbell – Jamaica

193. Sylvia Baker – Bahamas 194. Kristina Hinds – Barbados 195. Nicole Charles – Canada 196. Kaneesha Parsard – USA 197. R. Cassandra Lord – Canada 198. Yusuf Hafejee – Barbados 199. Gabrielle Hosein – Trinidad and Tobago 200. Gralyn Frazier – The Bahamas 201. Susan Mains – Grenada 202. Leslieann Seegobin – Trinidad and Tobago 203. Chelsea Foster – Girls of A Feather, St. Lucia 204. Paul Anthony O’Dell – USA 205. Roberta Clarke – Trinidad and Tobago  206. Kaylorn Jones – USA 207. Marijke Sonneveld – Projekta, Suriname 208. Antonia Meinecke – Germany 209. Jennifer Grant Wilson – USA 210. Mark Dacosta – Guyana 211. Marilyn Rice-Bowen – Past President, Caribbean Women’s Association 212. Vanya Martha David – Dominica 213. Peter Lyte – USA 214. Nathilee Caldeira – USA 215. Foundation Womens’ Rights Center- Suriname 216. Jemma John 217. Rosie Descartes 218. Coreen Irving 219. Tamara J Savoury 220. Cordelia Goodluck 221. Joan Cuffie 222. Ernestine Watson 223. Malaika Slater 224. Summer Lewis-Clarke 225. Cathy Shepherd 226. Shanta Grant 227. Kwame Nkosi Romeo 228. Marcia Braveboy 229. Jennifer Grant-Wilson 230. Jecliz Walker