Noel Chambers’ relatives couldn’t be found – Chang
Jamaica’s national security minister, Dr Horace Chang, said that a search by prison authorities 16 years ago to find relatives of Noel Chambers, an inmate who died at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston where he spent the last 41 years awaiting trial, failed to locate anyone.
Chang, reporting to Parliament, said that in 2004, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), in collaboration with the Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, embarked on a one-year project that involved assigning a special team to search for relatives of unfit-toplead inmates and return them to the courts. He said that Chambers was included in this project.
“A search for the relatives of Mr Chambers was undertaken by the DCS, with no success,” Chang said.
The minister, in announcing that a comprehensive audit has been ordered into the circumstances surrounding the death of Chambers, said that he was deemed fit to plead on several occasions.
The minister said that in December 2000, the family of Chambers requested that he be released on parole.
“Given that he was being held at the governor general’s pleasure, he was not eligible for parole. The lawyers have advised me that parole and reprieve can only be granted to persons convicted and sentenced. The fact that Mr Chambers was neither convicted nor sentenced nullified this option,” Dr Chang said.
“Following a psychiatric assessment in 2016, he was once again certified as being fit to plead, which resulted in him being included on a listing to the courts in 2017,” he added.
Chang said the audit is expected to not only reveal the circumstances specific to his death but also to thoroughly examine the procedures involved in the treatment of inmates who are deemed unfit to plead.
Dr Horace Chang