Media Association of Saint Lucia (MASL) President, Clinton Reynolds, has expressed concern about prisoners being brought to court unrestrained.
“It not only poses a risk to the public, but it also poses a risk to media professionals who practice in the vicinity of the court house,” Reynolds said.
He spoke against the backdrop of yesterday’s appearance at the Gros Islet courthouse of murder suspect, Melissa Joseph.
Joseph, who was unrestrained, was escorted by a female officer.
Reynolds recalled that there have been situations where prisoners have escaped from police officers accompanying them to court, who have had to give chase.
“It could result in a situation where someone might have the brilliant idea of probably taking a hostage who is closest to the story, such as media practitioners who have cameras or mikes in the faces of these people exiting or entering the courthouse, “the MASL President observed.
He disclosed that the MASL would have to raise the matter with the Police Commissioner and the Director of Corrections, as there was need to pay closer attention to security.
“Too often we see people accused of serious crimes being escorted without restraints and we can’t allow that to continue to happen. The situation needs to be addressed and resolved immediately so that media workers, civilians and passers by can be protected,” Reynolds asserted.
At the same time the MASL President praised the female officer who had accompanied Joseph to the courthouse for the humane manner in which she carried out her duties when the murder accused began behaving in an unruly manner.
At one point Joseph addressed members of the media who were on the scene, proclaiming her innocence.
Said Reynolds of the female officer who was escorting Joseph:
“It is a feather in officer’s cap that she dealt with the prisoner in a humane manner and appealed to her to cooperate, because I would hate to see a situation where she would have had to abuse the prisoner.”
Nevertheless the MASL President observed that Joseph did not have a restraint.
As far as he was concerned, to have a prisoner who is a murder suspect without handcuffs walking ahead of a police officer, is a serious matter that needs to be addressed.