Vybz Kartel and fellow inmates are reportedly on a hunger strike following excessive searches and alleged harassment.

According to reports, several searches were conducted at the St Catherine Adult Correctional Facility over the holidays. This may sound routine, but some inmates are now claiming they were abused.

A human rights group, Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ) has called for an immediate investigation following the allegations. The executive director for SUFJ, Carla Gullotta, revealed that an attorney visited the maximum-security prison on Monday, December 28 and received many reports about the alleged abuse.

According to Gullotta, some prisoners claim they were severely beaten and personal belongings destroyed. In response, the prisoners have gone on a hunger strike. “Some blocks are on hunger strike, and inmates do not come out from their cells.”

However, these claims have since been denied by Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security. He says that the accusations were just “rumours and unfortunate mischief-making.”

“I have instructed Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, Dr Marc Thomas, to invite representatives of INDECOM and the Office of the Public Defender to visit the institution, undertake independent investigations, and inform the public of their findings urgently,” he said.

Interestingly, the searches seem to coincide with Dancehall artiste Shawn Storm’s recent social media activity. The deejay sparked controversy after his Instagram account went live with Lucian singer MonCherie’s Live for more than 30 minutes on Christmas Day.

However, fans can only speculate as the deejay’s face nor voice was never exposed. However, the entertainer’s thoughts were instead communicated via the chat section of the Live broadcast.

Earlier in the year, Vybz Kartel also found himself in similar trouble with the law after going Live on Instagram. Following a search of his cell, authorities say they confiscated a cellular phone.

Both Vybz Kartel and Shawn storm are currently serving life sentences for the 2011 murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. They will each have to serve 35 and 25 years respectively before being considered for parole.