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Kartel takes government to court - Entertainer says placement in solitary confinement breaches constitutional rights

Vybz Kartel has taken the government to court over the Department of Correctional Services' (DCS) decision to place him in solitary confinement.

The entertainer, whose given name is Adijah Palmer, has been in 23-hour-a-day lockdown since last month. However, his lawyer, Isat Buchanan, has filed documents in the Supreme Court seeking several declarations, among them being that Kartel's right to due process was breached by the correctional services as he was placed in solitary confinement without a hearing.

The minister of national security and the attorney general have been named as respondents to the court documents.

Kartel was placed in the restricted cell following the discovery of cell phones on a block where he was being housed at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston. His attorney, in a recent interview, said he has been in solitary confinement since Labour Day, May 23.

"He is locked up and locked away for 23 hours a day and I can confirm that since lockdown, he has picked up an infection from the lockdown and he is being treated for that now," he said.

Solitary confinement is a form of imprisonment in which the inmate lives in a single cell with little or no meaningful contact with other people.

Buchanan has said that Kartel is suffering from Graves' disease, which is an autoimmune illness, and that he requires urgent medical treatment.

"Since the 23-hour lockdown, it is apparent that his health is deteriorating. I can speak to the fact that his neck is swollen more than usual and that his eyes are protruding a little bit more than usual, and it is clear that he is under stress when breathing," Buchanan said in a recent interview with this newspaper.

Kartel as well as his co-convicts Shawn 'Shawn Storm' Campbell, Kahira Jones and Andre St John are serving life sentences for the 2011 murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams. They were convicted in 2014. Kartel has been ordered to serve 35 years before he is eligible for parole while Campbell's parole eligibility period was set at 25 years.

St John and Jones will have to serve 30 and 25 years, respectively, before they are eligible for parole.

The men were, in 2020, granted conditional leave to go to the Privy Council to challenge their murder conviction. However, they will not be able to present fresh evidence at the appeal.

Meanwhile, Buchanan, in documents filed before the Supreme Court, has sought an order that would prohibit the DCS from placing Kartel in solitary confinement due to those conditions being a breach of his constitutional rights, the fact that his conviction is being appealed and his current health conditions.

The lawyer is also seeking damages for breach of Kartel's constitutional rights, which means that the Government could be required to pay money to the entertainer if the court agrees.

The matter is expected to be heard next week.