Up in arms
by Emmanuel Joseph
The Royal Barbados Police Force is facing a lawsuit over the arrest and detention of a young man from Parish Land in Christ Church.
Gail-Ann Phillips, the aunt of Charad Phillips told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that their lawyer, Verla DePeiza filed a writ ofhabeas corpusin the High Court today on behalf the family.
The Phillips family is†claiming that on Tuesday morning at about 5:10, police officers broke down her sister’s door and then entered, without producing a search warrant. Gail-Ann said her sister and her two sons were taken to Oistins Police Station – her sister still in her night clothing and bare footed and the children in their boxer shorts.
“When my nephew was taken to Oistins on Tuesday, he was in a healthy condition. When I next saw him yesterday, his face was swollen and he was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in a police van,” reported Phillips. She said the other nephew was released, but that up to this evening, Charad Phillips remained in custody.
The angry relative informed this paper that it was not the first time houses within a triangle in the same area had come under similar “attack” by the police officer, apparently looking for drugs. Phillips related that she received the prescription from the doctor at the QEH for Charad.
“The doctor prescribed tablets and ointment…,” added the woman.
Police Public Relations Officer, Inspector David Welch, admitted that members of the force who executed a warrant at the Philips’ residence, used force after the occupants “refused” to open the door on the constant pleadings of the officers.Welch claimed that members of the family “fought” with the police and as a result, †44 year old Pamela Phillips, and her children Zaquille and Madenni were arrested and charged with assault, resisting and obstructing police in the execution of their duties.
He said they appeared in the District “B” Magistrate’s Court and pleaded not guilty and the case has been adjourned. But while not disclosing his name, Welch said the (other) suspect, who was under investigation for a “well publicised” criminal matter, was still in legal custody.
He also denied police wore skii masks when executing the warrant.
A writ of habeas corpus is a legal action that requires a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into a court. The principal of habeas corpus ensures that a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention – that is, detention lacking sufficient cause or evidence.
The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to the prisoner’s aid. This right originated in the English legal system. It has historically been an important legal instrument safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary state action.
The family of Charad Phillips suggested that the police were looking for suspects who had broken into homes. The young man’s aunt said she understood her nephew and another man, suspected to breaking into homes, were to appear in court tomorrow, but they had not been officially informed.