Know your rights : What to do if you are arrested

December 06, 2016

Starting today, THE STAR, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, will be publishing a series of articles intended to to assist Jamaicans in knowing and securing their rights, which are guaranteed under the Constitution.

The Jamaican Constitution came into effect on July 23, 1962. There are 10 chapters in the Constitution. Chapter Three, which deals with fundamental rights and freedoms, sets out the rights to which every citizen is entitled.

It does not matter who you are - your colour, your class, whether you are an adult, a child, male or female, your level of education, where you live - none of these matters. You have the same rights as every other Jamaican.

What can you do if your rights have been breached?

Your rights are protected under the Constitution, and you may seek redress by applying to the Supreme Court if your rights are breached or if you have reason to believe that they may be breached or contravened.

Examples of rights that are commonly breached in Jamaica

Karen Campbell-Bascoe, director of the Justice Training Institute, talks about some of the rights that are often breached in Jamaica.

"We have found that persons are sometimes held without bail beyond the time frame allowed under the law. The Bail Act gives persons the right to apply for bail. So, if you are charged with a criminal offence, you should be given consideration for bail within 24 hours of you being charged.

"Also, if you have been detained or arrested, you have the right to a lawyer. Every person who is detained or remanded at a police station, even if you have been detained without being charged, should be allowed to contact a lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, ask the police to make contact with duty counsel, who is a private lawyer provided through the Legal Aid programme. Once you ask the police to contact your lawyer or duty counsel, they should wait until that lawyer arrives before they begin to question you."

Legal Aid Council

Have you or your relative been arrested but cannot afford legal representation?

Call or visit the Legal Aid Council at:

Air Jamaica Building

Ground Floor

72-76 Harbour Street


Telephone: (876) 948-6999


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