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Jail for ‘child money’ not automatic

HEATHER-LYNN EVANSON, [email protected]

Jail for ‘child money’ not automatic

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A high court has ruled that a man who was sent to prison for 42 days for not paying child maintenance was falsely imprisoned by the Magistrates’ Court.

And the judge has suggested that instead of automatically sending men to HMP Dodds, magistrates should find out if the men are financially unable to pay or are just wilfully refusing to do so.

As a result, said an attorney, Government could find itself facing a number of lawsuits from other men who were automatically confined for six weeks.

“In theory, people who have been committed to prison under this clerical committal process that [Acting] Justice Alrick Scott has highlighted in terms of his judgment, can subsequently sue the Government for false imprisonment and get damages because Article 13 (4) of the Barbados Constitution says if somebody is falsely imprisoned, then they are entitled to compensation if they are unlawfully detained,” lawyer Lalu Hanuman said.

“So it could open a whole lot of litigation. Given that this is a new development and it’s just now come to light that they have been wrongfully detained, they could sue the Government,” he explained.

The judgment was handed down on May 8 by Acting Justice Scott in a matter brought by Hanuman on behalf of father Andre Edwards against the Superintendent of Prisons and the Attorney General.

Edwards fell behind on his payments shortly after a maintenance order of $60 a week was made in April 2013. He was summoned to appear in court on a number of occasions and when he did appear in February this year, he was committed to prison for arrears of $5 610. (HLE)

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