Posted on

Jamaican pilot in Qatar prison


Jamaican pilot in Qatar prison

Social Share

KINGSTON – Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Edmund Bartlett says that the Government must intervene on behalf of a Jamaican airline pilot, Paul Stephens, who has been imprisoned in Qatar for the past three years on what appears to be trumped-up charges.

In a release today, Bartlett said that he was calling on Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator A. J. Nicholson to give a full account of the steps being taken to secure the best interest of Stephens.

Nicholson acknowledged in the Senate on Friday that Stephens is the only Jamaican known to the Government as being held in jail in a Muslim country. However, the minister furnished no further details on his detention.

Nicholson was responding to questions from Senator Robert Montague on the number of Jamaicans being held in prisons abroad.

According to Bartlett, Stephens was charged for raping a co-worker’s daughter, but was eventually sentenced for “mistrust of a minor”, after the case for rape could not be established in the courts.

“The parents and friends of the airline pilot Paul Stephens have written several letters to Foreign Affairs Ministers Nicholson and (Arnaldo Brown) as well as Information Minister, Sandrea Falconer, seeking government assistance to plead for pardon by the Qatar government and/or deport him back to Jamaica, to little avail,” Bartlett stated.

“In the interim,” the Opposition spokesman said, “Mr Stephens is suffering in the Salva Correctional institution in Qatar from stab wounds to his left arm and his right foot, bruised and swollen as a result of homosexual assaults on him, which he had to fend off.”

“Certainly, the most important function of a consulate is to rally the cause of our citizens abroad, and vigorously defend their right to fair and just treatment in foreign soil. The Government has not, in recent times, shown this duty to care for our nationals abroad,” Bartlett added.

He said that he has been advised that the family and friends of Stephens have had reputable lawyers draft a letter of pardon, dictated by eminent authorities in Qatar, which needed the concurrence of the Government of Jamaica, but to date no action has been taken by the Government.

Bartlett said that he is calling on the Government to engage “appropriate diplomatic dialogue” with the government of Qatar, to facilitate the pardoning of Stephens.

The State of Qatar is a sovereign Arab country located in Western Asia. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in September 1971, and became an independent sovereign state. The Al Thani dynasty has been ruling Qatar since the family house was established in 1825. There is no independent legislature, and political parties are forbidden. Parliamentary elections, originally promised for 2005, have been postponed indefinitely. (Jamaica Observer)