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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Good cop or bad, like we said, the Corporal has raised an issue of public interest. And, the Human Rights Commission of Belize is among the most interested. That group has been pressing police on this for sometime now - and finally, with this exposure, they have agreed to work together with police to upgrade the detention cell to minimum standards:

Jules Vasquez- Reporter
"What was your visceral reaction when you saw those photos?"

Kevin Arthurs, Human Rights Commission of Belize
"I was repulsed, that's the first response. But there is a very practical approach to this as well. The maintenance of these facilities takes a certain amount of management and it takes a certain amount of vigilance. And we know that the police department is distracted with other things. I'm not letting them off the hook but truly it's a thing where we have to work on some corporation. We are having two conversations, myself and Compol. One conversation that we are having, hopefully throughout the course of today, is to see how we can work on certain issues that he has raised with me. And then next week he has invited the human rights commission to a meeting in Belmopan where we will discuss wider issues. He has specific things that he wants to work on, and he has named two of them. One is continued sensitization with the training of police officers because you have to start at the beginning with them. And other suggestions that we might have on moving forward to help the human rights issue. Listen, Human Rights and law enforcement are on the same side. Anyone who goes to say that they are not, simply does not understand what we should expect from each other."

Jules Vasquez
"When people feel that you can't get a conviction at court, 'that man is going to get out of jail,' so people like, on an implicit level, that you punish them ina pisshouse, forgive the word."

Kevin Arthurs, Human Rights Commission of Belize
"Surely there is a sadistic and very malicious way that we can look at things but there are certain things that tell us what kind of society we are. Hitler societies certainly had certain ideals which we do not share after the second world war and because of those things we pass certain rules as common people throughout the world. One of those things was the universal declaration of human rights. And so, I am a 100% sure that Belize is not one of those societies that hold that we should treat anyone who is human like an animal?"

Williams said today that he will try and meet with Arthurs this week.

Compol Says He Will Refurbish Revolting "Pisshouse"

Corporal Darrell Tutsi Usher caused a national sensation yesterday when he posted Facebook pictures of the hideous conditions at the Queen Street detention cell. Usher and his brother were locked up for 48 hours - while police investigated them for charges of wounding and aggravated assault.

The charges were thrown out of court, but the effect of those images will endure for a long, long time.

And, today, settling into his new Belize City office, Commissioner Chester Williams addressed it. He said it is at the top of his list of things to do:...

Chester Williams- Commissioner of Police
"Really and truly it looks bad and I honestly believe that to put people in that situation is tantamount to inhumane treatment. I have been aware of the matter and have since directed that a contractor be brought in to look at the situation and see what we can do to enhance it. So, my intention is to see if we can take out all the tiles. I don't think that tiles should be used in cell blocks because urine may go under the tiles and could create a stench. So, we want to remove all the tiles and redo the bathroom issue and use some kind of paint or some kind of facing that we can use on the bare cement to be able to prevent water or urine from seeping into the cement foundation. The next option will be to probably put the bathroom away from the cell block. So that when the prisoners want to use the bathroom then the prison would be escorted to the bathroom by the police. That way we can manage how the bathroom is being used and if anybody goes to damage it we will know exactly who damaged it there and then."

"What is the situation now?"

Chester Williams
"Well, the situation now is that instructions have been given that the place be cleaned. And if you go to the...even the constitution, it tells you that it is the prisoners' responsibility to clean his or her surroundings. That area was recently repaired not too long ago. From then to now to see the state it is in, it makes me wonder. And as what someone asked or someone said, it is not the police who has it like that. And you'll find that many times when detainees are detained, they are the ones who damage those facilities."

"For detainees who might be in custody for 24 hours or more, many of them find themselves having to sleep on the floor; notwithstanding the conditions there now. Will the renovation include benches as most cell blocks in the world would have?"

Chester Williams
"That is something to be considered to put bunkers that they would be able to sleep on rather than on the ground. Things that were acceptable back in the days are no longer acceptable. We have the United Nations minimum standard for prisons and, while we may not be able to meet the minimum standard, I think that we can work towards getting there as close as possible. And indeed, yes persons who are detained by police do not shed themselves of their humanity. They are still human beings and, as such, we, rightfully so, need to ensure the area where we keep prisoners is kept in such a way that it is tantamount to human treatment."

Love The Message, Punish The Messenger

And while the Commissioner accepts that detained persons must be treated in an acceptable manner, that doesn't mean they should have cell phones in the cell block! In fact, detained persons are strictly not allowed to have mobile phones while in custody. But, it seems Corporal Usher had a camera phone - which snapped those pictures.

Now, that puts the Commissioner in what would seem to be a cute situation, because Corporal Usher raised a matter of national interest - but he did so by breaking the rules.

We asked the Commissioner about that contradiction today:..

Jules Vasqeuz- Reporter
"We have a whistleblower here who has done a public service. Now I know he is no favorite of the department, witnessed by the fact that he was detained for 48 hours, taken to court on something that is completely frivolous because the complainant had told the police, as he told the court, he has no interest in charges. So, his detention Mr. Corporal Usher can be seen as punitive. It was clearly punitive. Will he now be additionally penalized for breaking the rules and having a camera in the detention cell?"

Chester Williams- Commissioner of Police
"Jules, I do not see it as frivolous. Neither was his detention punitive in nature in the sense that, I don't know if you have the full nature of the complaint, but the complaint was that there was some gambling and somebody won and a firearm was involved, shots were fired, the complainant claimed to have been beaten up. So, if a gun was involved and shots were fired, I don't see how it could be frivolous. And my thing was that, if it is that the man has made a complaint let us take the matter to court. Let him go to the court and say to the court he wants nothing. Because I don't want later on you come back and say, 'Oh! Because he da wah police man uno no do nothing.' We do our part, then he goes to the court and tells the court he wants nothing and the court disposes the matter from there."

Jules Vasquez
"But sir, you are having a double standard, respectfully..."

Chester Williams- Commissioner of Police
"Let me finish. In respect of the issue with him having a phone in the cellblock, that is a totally different situation. Now I have tasked professional standards branch to go in and investigate that matter to see how can a prisoner in custody have a cell phone on him doing the things he was doing. Practically he was on facebook all day. We cannot countenance such behaviour."

Jules Vasquez
"You are showing a double standard because in the case of Douglas Grant, and Chicken Dread Ferguson, you said if the man wants to drop the complaint we can't proceed with it any further. As Mr. Chicken Dread indicated that he didn't want the complaint against Douglas Grant. You were happy, because of the political implications, to take your hands off that case. So that is a double standard."

Chester Williams
"Hold on again, let me answer you. With Mr. Usher there is also political implications and neither Chicken Dread nor Douglas Grant were police officers. When it comes to police officers, we are going to ensure we do what we need to do to show that there is no cover up because you and I know Jules that if we had not done so, you would have been the same one to come back and say, 'Oh! Because dah police officers...' that is not going to happen."

Jules Vasquez
"How then do we deal with the issue of the whistleblower? He has done a public good. He has put fire under your chair, under the human rights chair by exposing this abominable condition."

Chester Williams
"Jules, I don't think he put any fire under my chair."

Jules Vasquez
"You wouldn't have fixed it if it hadn't been exposed."

Chester Williams
"No! That had been tasked even before he did that."

Jules Vasquez
"Is that so?"

Chester Williams
"Yes, it has been tasked. I am waiting for the estimate to come in. So, I don't understand how you call him a whistleblower. And he was a police officer on actual active duties for many years. He used to see it in such a condition. He did nothing. But because he is a victim of it now, he was placed in there, now it becomes an issue to him. Come on, we must be fair. And we must understand that Corporal Usher is still a police officer and therefore he is still subject to the discipline of the police department. And if it is that the police investigation reveals that he has committed any disciplinary infractions then he will be dealt with likewise."

Usher is presently on interdiction for a drug trafficking charge. Those political considerations Williams referred to are the fact that Darrell Tutsi Usher's father is the PUP's standard bearer for Port Loyola. Douglas Grant - who we referred to in the story - is a functionary for the UDP's police minister.

Channel 7

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Marty Offline OP
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Darrell Usher, 37, a police corporal, was detained on Sunday, January 27, for 48 hours after he allegedly got into a fight with a man with whom he had been gambling.

During his time at the Queen Street Police Station, Usher somehow was able to take a cellphone into the cell block, which he used to take pictures of the deplorable conditions of the bathroom at the station. He later posted the pictures on his Facebook page.

In his post, he said that despite the fact that the person with whom he fought had requested no court action, he still had to spend 48 hours at the police station. Referring to the pictures that he posted, he also said, "This is the place [that] me and [other detainees] have to eat and then sleep [afterwards], on the ground. Just because someone is detained, they should not be [placed] in this s***hole."

Usher said that the detainees could not sleep in the cells properly because the sewage system is backed up and waste water comes from under the ground and enters the sleeping area. Some of the pictures Usher posted also showed walls that were stained with human feces.

Usher said, "During the stay at the 'nice hotel,' we had to be inhaling, I would say, years of people's waste." He also said that he had spoken to someone who worked at the station who told him that in the first two days they began working there, they became sick and the doctor had told them it was because of the unclean environment.

Usher charged that officers in higher rankings don't care because they don't have to go into the cell block. He said that he was "hoping the change in the 'big boss' (Commissioner of Police) would bring better for people and police, but I guess most things [are] a front [and] behind closed doors, all remains the same."

The pictures are indeed hard to stomach, and they caught the attention of the Human Rights Commission of Belize (HRCB), which issued a press release expressing their "deep disappointment with the images shared publicly and the chain of omissions which has taken the facilities back to this point."

In the release, the HRCB stated that as far back as November 2014 they, along with activist Yaya Marin Coleman, had worked with the Chief Justice and ex-Compol Allan Whylie to secure the promulgation of the "Guidelines for Interviewing and Treatment of Persons in Police Detention."

The HRCB also stated in the release: "We had urged, at that time, several safeguards to guarantee the maintenance and management of the lock-ups nationwide. The top brass of the police force appeared equally disgusted with the state of affairs. Surfing the relevant news archives, we will realize that this tends to be a recurrent problem."

HRCB said that they will be in communication with the newly appointed ComPol, Chester Williams, to "afford him the opportunity to reaffirm and refresh the department's commitment to minimum standards of human decency."

ComPol Williams said in an interview with the press today that he is aware of the unsanitary conditions of the bathrooms, and he has seen the release from HRCB. He commended the commission, and said that he has invited Kevin Arthurs, the vice president of HRCB, to have a meeting with him today as well, to see how they can collaborate on the issue.

Williams also said that he had known of the bathroom situation even before PC Usher posted the photos on Facebook, and that he had already started working on rectifying the issue.

The ComPol mentioned that the very same area was recently repaired and it makes him wonder how it could have gotten so deplorable within such a short period of time. He added that it is not the officers who created the mess in the bathroom, but rather the detainees who damage the facilities. Williams said they'd have to repair the bathroom in a way that would prevent it from being damaged.

Williams laid out two options that the police department has. The first is that they will have to redo the bathroom, including removing the tiles that are currently there to prevent urine from seeping under and creating a stench. He said that they would need to apply some kind of paint and "facing" on the bare cement to prevent water or urine from seeping into the cement foundation.

Williams said that if the bathroom is left within the cell, it will be placed at a lower level than the cell's floor so that the water from the bathroom does not run onto the sleeping area.

The second option would be to remove the bathroom from the cellblock and designate another area to be used as the detainees' bathroom. The detainees would then have to be escorted to the bathroom. He said that, with the second option, the police would be aware who is damaging the facilities, since they would know who is using the bathroom at any particular time.

ComPol Williams said that either option would be a costly endeavor, but the facility would be constructed/renovated to last longer and to create a healthy environment for the detainees. He said that as soon as they receive an estimate, they will be writing to the Ministry of Finance for assistance with the renovations.

As for a short-term solution, Williams said that instructions have already been given for the area to be cleaned as much as possible. He added that the Constitution says that it is really the prisoners' responsibility to clean their surroundings. He said that the police appreciate their responsibility to ensure that the prisoners are treated humanely and that the facility is clean. But this does not include areas where the prisoners are able to clean.

In regards to the detainees sleeping on the floor, Williams said that they are also considering putting bunks to use for sleeping, but if there is an excess of prisoners, not all will be able to use the bunks.

Next on the agenda, according to the ComPol, is figuring out how PC Usher was even allowed to have a cell phone in the cellblock, and where the breakdown in procedure occurred. Williams said he has already tasked the Professional Standards Branch to investigate this.


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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Refurbishing of holding cells at the Queen Street Police Station almost complete

In late January, pictures of the unsanitary conditions of the holding cells at the Queen Street police station flooded social media. They were taken by Corporal Darrel Usher who was detained along with his brother and kept in the cell for some forty hours on accusations of assault. But somehow he kept his cellular phone with him and took images of the ghastly conditions of the holding cells and published them on Facebook. The conditions prompted a reaction from the Human Rights Commission of Belize and eventually, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams announced that these would be refurbished. Today, the Commissioner says that work is soon to be completed.

Commissioner of Police Chester Williams: "I am a man of action and when I say I am going to do something I do it. The cell block renovation is well underway. It should be finished in the next week or week and a half and whenever it is done I am inviting a representative from each media house to spend a night in the cell block and you must tell me the next day morning if it suitable for the criminals to be in.

On another issue, the Commissioner was asked for an update into the incident involving an inspector of Police and a police constable. That is surrounding an incident where Police constable Marco Hynes accuses an inspector of assaulting him. That matter, the commissioner said is being addressed, adding that the complainant does not wish to pursue court action. But when asked why he, the Commissioner is not pushing the investigation further as he has done on other matters where complainants refuse to pursue court action, the Commissioner had this response.

Commissioner of Police Chester Williams: "Don't confuse oranges and apples. The manner in San Pedro was Police against civilian. The matter with Mr. Usher was Police against civilian. The matter with the Constable Mr. Vasquez spoke about and the officer is Police against Police. It is apple and oranges so let us not confuse the two of them. When it comes to officers who commits any misconduct against a member of the public we will go hard at them. When it comes to internal issues and if we can resolve it in house internally then we can do that. We are one organization."

Updates were provided today during a police event in Belize City.


Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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From Putrid "Pisshouse" to Civil Cell Block

At the end of January, Police Corporal Darrell Tutsi Usher made national headlines when he posted pictures of the abominable conditions at the eastern division police station's cell block. It's the country's largest police station - and inside was nothing nice! Well, less than two months later, those repulsive conditions are just a fast fading memory. That's because the police senior command put in major work and money to refurbish the place known as pisshouse. As we found out today, you can't call it that anymore:

Williams said that the tab for the renovations so far is 60 thousand dollars.  

Next, they will renovate the Raccoon street cellblock as well and then start working on the out-district holding cells.  

Channel 7

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