Human Rights Report gives local prison, ‘1735,’ the thumbs-down for harsh and inhumane conditions

The poor and inhumane conditions of His Majesty’s Prison and other
detention centres in Antigua and Barbuda have again been highlighted in a
recent Human Rights Report, with no noteworthy changes to this concerning

The annual Human Rights Report, published recently, highlights concerns
over the conditions of the country’s lone penal facility and other locations
where detentions are made.

The executive summary of the 2023 document notes that there were no
significant changes in Antigua and Barbuda’s human-rights performance
during the year.

However, it also acknowledges that there were no credible reports of
significant human-rights abuses, either. And the Government took credible
steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed such abuses,
the report notes.
However, under the sub-heading “Prison and Detention Center Conditions,”
the report notes that prison and detention centre conditions are harsh due to
overcrowding and outdated infrastructure.
Furthermore, under the heading “Abusive Physical Conditions,” the report
reiterates that the country’s sole prison, constructed in 1735, is “grossly
overcrowded,” with some juveniles being held with adults.

Reportedly officials at the prison “reported that outdated, inadequate
infrastructure was the main problem, in addition to contraband and
It was noted, too, that the superintendent of prisons reviews reports of
mistreatment of inmates and forwards them to the Prison Visiting Committee
for further investigation.
According to the Human Rights Report, there is independent monitoring of the
prison, with the government permitting visits by independent non-
governmental observers.
Addressing arbitrary arrests and detention, the report says the Constitution of
Antigua and Barbuda prohibits this activity and provides for the right of any
person to challenge the lawfulness of their arrest or detention in court.
It was noted that the Government generally observed these requirements.
On the subject of arrest procedures and treatment of detainees, the report
notes that the law permits officers to arrest a person without a warrant, based
on suspicion of criminal activity.
It also requires the Police to bring detainees before a court within 48 hours of
arrest or detention, or to file a motion requesting an extension. Prisoners are
to be released if these time limits are not met; but the report does not detail
whether this is always the case.
The Human Rights Report covers internationally recognized individual, civil,
political and worker rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and other international agreements.