The name sounds nice, but it is far from any resort. In fact, on Sunday one person who spent a night there told the STAR that he’d rather spend a year at Bordelais than another minute at the Custody Suites.
The suites are actually remnants of one of the biggest horror stories in our nation’s history; Her Majesty’s Prison on Bridge Street. It is now a place where persons who are arrested are temporarily detained before they are charged.
“Why would they put someone in a place like that who hasn’t been charged or found guilty,” our former Custody Suites guest told us. “On mornings they will give you a small piece of baguette dirtied with some butter and if you are lucky to have a container, they would throw some kool-aid in it for you. The place stinks as persons urinate on the concrete floor. There is no bed just a hard floor to sleep on.”
Last week, president of the Saint Lucia Vendors’ Arcade declared that he would be mounting a legal challenge to have the place shut down and called on citizens of the country to join him.
On Monday there was a response from the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. “There are some issues at Custody Suites which need addressing, however, these issues are not due to negligence on the part of police officers,” the release read.
“Some of the issues are brought about because of the configuration and layout of the facility, which are compounded by the actions of the persons in custody,” it added.
The release went on to point out that although persons are fed, due to logistical, security and financial constraints, it is not possible to provide persons in custody with hot meals.
“However, there are provisions made for persons with special medical conditions and dietary needs. In some instances, subject to the rules and regulations of the facility, meals may be accepted from relatives or friends,” it went on.
According to the police, the Custody Suites serve a very important role as a temporary holding cell. The authorities are mindful of the issues and have been seeking to address them subject to the availability of resources.
But should the police be dealing with issues? Isn’t this a matter for the ministry of national security and justice? So far we have not heard from the Minister on the matter or from the bar association or for that matter any civil organization about the uncivilized conditions at Custody Suites.