Basseterre, 27 May 2020 – The CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) is stepping up donations of basic sanitation supplies and other COVID related supplies to prisons and correctional facilities in twelve (12) CARICOM Member States affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
An air shipment of the sanitation supplies arrived in St. Kitts today. The supplies included infrared thermometers, as well as cleaning products such as disinfectant, liquid soap, bleach, hand sanitizers and other necessary supplies. The Regional Security System (RSS) airlifted the supplies to the Robert L. Bradshaw Airport, Basseterre. The supplies were funded by the generous support of the British High Commission, Port of Spain.
Globally there is the acknowledgement and recognition of the heightened vulnerability of prisoners and prison staff for whom social distancing is a challenge, and for many, impossible. The COVID-19 pandemic compounds an already precarious situation of this vulnerable population group in CARICOM States.
As part of the CARICOM coordinated response to COVID-19, CARICOM IMPACS is contributing to prevent and mitigate the spread of the pandemic in prisons and correctional services in CARICOM Member States.
Lt. Col. Michael Jones, Executive Director (Ag), CARICOM IMPACS, who presented the supplies to Mr Terrance James, Commissioner of Corrections, St. Kitts and Nevis on the airport tarmac said that “An outbreak of COVID-19 could have devastating results for prison officers, inmates, visitors and the surrounding community if mitigating measures are not taken to prevent the introduction of the virus in prisons and correctional services”.
Mr. James thanked the cooperating partners of CARICOM IMPACS, the British High Commission, Port of Spain and the RSS for delivering the supplies. He said that “on a daily basis, prison staff come in direct contact with inmates, and the supplies will support and ensure that preventive measures are in place to prevent and mitigate any outbreaks of COVID-19”.
The supplies provided are in accordance with guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the prevention and control of the pandemic in prisons (WHO, 2020).
Over the past two weeks CARICOM IMPACS and the RSS has successfully donated the supplies to the prisons and correctional services in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. Within the next week, approximately seven (7) other CARICOM Members will receive similar assistance.
The donation of these supplies will encourage and assist with the accelerated adoption of WHO guidelines for prisons and other places of detention.
In addition to the items provided to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in prisons, on 7 May 2020, CARICOM IMPACS collaborated with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to provide a virtual training session to more than 500 frontline officers on measures to protect themselves in the line of duty. This effort strengthened the capacity of prison staff to better manage their operations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also complements the ongoing efforts by CARICOM IMPACS, the British High Commission and the RSS to provide basic sanitation support to CARICOM Member States.
St. Kitts and Nevis with an estimated population of 57,000 persons has 181 prisoners and 94 staff at Her Majesty’s Prison, Basseterre.