PNM senator Fitzgerald Hinds, one of the lawyers representing Cheryl Miller, who was forcibly admitted to the St Ann's Psychiatric Hospital, is confident they would win the court matter against the institution. Miller, an accounts clerk, was removed from her desk at the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development at Tower D, Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain, 16 days ago and detained at the hospital.
The incident occurred after a confrontation with a senior employee. Miller was released last Friday after an emergency High Court sitting when Justice Vasheist Kokaram granted her one week's leave from the hospital. The Public Services Association has retained Hinds, Stanley Marcus, SC, and junior attorneys to fight the hospital's decision to detain her.
Hinds, on a radio programme yesterday, said lawyers representing the hospital were seeking to use Section 15 of the Mental Health Act to justify the institution's action, but it does not fit. "It appears there was no justification for what they have done...They illegally apprehended our client," he said.
"I expect they will try to justify that illegality. "I am confident they would not be able to demonstrate the lawfulness of their conduct." Asked whether he was challenging the hospital's diagnosis, Hinds said he received instructions from Miller's relatives to focus only on whether she was forcibly removed from her workplace and detained at the hospital.
He said: "The position is that nothing is wrong with our client. That is our instruction (from relatives). That is the line we are taking." Hinds made references to cases in history where people, usually those oppressed by political regimes, have been taken to concentration camps and "given all kinds of medication to punish them and make them mad."
He recalled the state of emergency declared by the Government in August last year, stating that 466 people were arrested and had to be released by the court because of a lack of evidence. He charged that it was a "gross abuse of power" to remove Miller from her workplace forcibly and detain her at St Ann's.
Hinds also criticised Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan for saying he was investigating how Miller was allowed to leave the hospital. Khan, in a newspaper report yesterday, indicated that he was doing his own research from both sides of the issue. He said people could be fired from a government ministry or the St Ann's hospital if his investigations proved there was a breach in protocol in either how Miller was admitted to the hospital or how she was released.