Gov’t could allow inmates e-meetings with lawyers

MONTEGO BAY, St James — National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says his ministry is considering facilitating audio-visual links between private attorneys and their clients in custody who may require their service during the hours of the COVID-19 curfew.

“What we want to try and do is to set up electronic interviews,” the minister told the Jamaica Observer, adding that “the legal and practical aspects have to be examined before any commitment is given.”

When asked how such an electronic interview would work, the minister said, “They will set up this thing; they know who they are. They will identify themselves by virtue of various registration, and they talk to their clients online.”

President of the Cornwall Bar Association Lambert Johnson pointed out that “not all stations can facilitate it, but where it can be facilitated, [it] is a good idea”.

Johnson stated, however, that there is a concern.

“You have to make sure that while we [attorneys] are not there, it is so set up that the clients’ right to confidentiality is not breached. So, you don’t have a policeman in the room listening to the conversation. It has to be set up in such a way where the client has absolute privacy,” he argued.

Late last month, Prime Minister Andrew Holness imposed a seven-day islandwide curfew as part of the Government’s efforts to curtail the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

He has since announced an extension of the measure until Tuesday, April 21, with varying times over the Easter weekend.

Several categories of people, including journalists, members of the political directorate and essential workers, are exempt from the curfew.

— Anthony Lewis

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