AG dares opposition UPP to challenge prison proclamation

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A move in parliament seeking to regularise the detention of a U.K. man accused of raping a woman in Antigua, is being challenged by the opposition, United Progressive Party.
And, that party is already being told by the government to bring it on, as the attorney general, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said he stands by the proclamation that was read in parliament yesterday morning.
Yesterday, one of the first acts in parliament was Benjamin’s reading of the proclamation that a section of the former U.S. Air Station is a prison. This actually come weeks after the authorities had already started using it to house the U.K. policeman who quickly left his vacation in Antigua to return home
only to be extradited back to
Antigua to face his alleged crime.
But, instead of being held at Her Majesty’s Prison, he was put at the former naval base because a U.K. court extradited him only on condition he would be held in some place with better conditions than the overcrowded, filthy jail, here, where conditions are said to be inhumane and a breach of his human rights.
Benjamin read the declaration, “I beg to lay on the table the following statutory instruments Mr. Speaker, the first of which is as follows: Number 36 of 2018 Mr. Speaker, the proclamation by the Governor General declaring room E8 of Block E of the air station at the PanAm base as a prison for the purposes of the Prison Act cap 341.”
But not longer after this was read, the opposition United Progressive Party began questioning its validity.
In a statement to the media, the party said such alteration to the prison requires the approval of Parliament and not merely laying the Proclamation on the table.
The party points to the original Prison Act of 1956 and the subsequent amendment in 2017 to support its argument.
It said that although the amendment removed certain powers from the governor general and transferred them to the minister, it did not remove the part which says parliamentary approval is required.
The party stated, “The proper procedure, therefore, would necessitate the matter being put before the House as a Resolution and voted upon by Members. Without such approval, the legality of the proclamation is questionable.”
OBSERVER media reviewed both pieces of legislation which are available on www.legalaffairs.gov.ag and found that Section 4 of the principal Act was not repealed entirely, and the amendment made, leaves the part which states that the approval of parliament is needed, while it shifted the power from the governor general to the relevant minister.
When contacted, the attorney general, who is also responsible for the prison, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said he stands by the move taken in Parliament.
“We are satisfied that what was done was correct in law, whatever decision taken by this government, and by this attorney general is very well researched and we made sure that there is no error in what is being done. If they [UPP] are of the view that it is incorrect, then let them challenge it,” he said.

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