The Acting Chief Justice – Roxane George, on Wednesday announced a compensation of GUY$3.1 million (One Guyana dollar=US$0.008 cents) to a 56-year-old Jamaican woman who has been illegally arrested in prison for a time period of 8 months.
Attorney Darren Wade had filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the State to breach Sandra Russell’s fundamental rights to freedom after the Guyana Police Force members had illegally imprisoned her.
Russell asked the State to compensate – GUY$10 million per day for each day she has been in unlawful custody, in excess of GUY$20 million for the inhumane and degrading treatment she had gone through in the lockups.
GUY$20 million has been demanded for the breach of her freedom of movement, and GUY$50 million demanded the wrongful imprisonment. She was detained at the – East La Penitence Police Station in the capital, Georgetown, shortly after being released from the prison after serving a sentence for trafficking narcotics.
The victim has stated that she suffered depression and stress as the ventilation at the station was poor, and she was forced to sleep on a thin mattress on the concrete floor. In the year of 2018, Russell was sentenced to 8 months in prison and fined GUY$135,000 by Chief Magistrate – Ann McLennan for the ownership of 70 grams of cannabis. But she had her sentence later reduced to 3 and a half months.
However, on November 10, 2018, Russell was released into the custody of a ‘female Immigration Officer’ who told her that she will be deported to Jamaica. But that never materialised, and instead, she was kept in custody at the East La Penitence Police Station and released eight months later on GUY$10,000 bail on July 7, 2019.
Since the applicant is not a citizen of Guyana and has clearly overstayed her time, unless some accommodation is given by the State, she must leave. This should not be at the expense of the State. As such, unless she can stand the expenses of her return to her home country, which such expense is to be subtracted from the award,” Justice George declared.