Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Bar wants “swift and strong” action

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The Barbados Bar Association is calling for “swift and strong action to immediately address issues affecting the rights of persons in police custody” after a complaint from one of its members.

A Weekend Nation story revealed that on February 4, a recording device, which was duct taped under a table at the District E Police Station, fell while an attorney was having confidential consultation with a client.

“A person in custody has a constitutional right to legal counsel, and that consultation is governed by principles of Attorney-Client privilege.  While the Association is informed that the matter is currently under investigation, we urge that the investigation be completed with dispatch, and the results be made known in the coming days,” said the release from the Bar Association.

Commissioner of Police Richard Boyce said he was aware of the incident.

The release follows in full:

The Barbados Bar Association calls for swift and strong action to immediately address issues affecting the rights of persons in police custody. This includes protocols governing the conduct of Attorneys’ confidential communication with accused persons.

The call is being made against the backdrop of the BBA receiving an alarming complaint of an incident on 4th February 2023 at District E Police Station, involving a suspected recording of a private conversation between and Attorney and her client.

A person in custody has a constitutional right to legal counsel, and that consultation is governed by principles of Attorney-Client privilege.  While the Association is informed that the matter is currently under investigation, we urge that the investigation be completed with dispatch, and the results be made known in the coming days.

There should be a dedicated meeting room which must be fully private, they must be cleared of all items and only contain a desk and seating, and Attorneys must  be afforded an opportunity to inspect the room prior to conducting an interview.

In the past, our members have repeatedly raised a number of issues affecting the rights of persons in police custody. The time has come for stakeholders to work together to address these issues, not in a reactionary manner, but address them in their totality.

These and other steps can and must be immediately implemented to begin to restore what could be seen as a serious breach in trust, confidentiality and the fair and due process of the law.

The BBA will await the results of the investigation before making any further comment.

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