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Camp Street Prison like a “warzone” – CoI Chairman


The Commission of Inquiry is to commence hearings tomorrow

The Commission of Inquiry is to commence hearings tomorrow

Chairman of the recently constituted Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Camp Street riot, Justice James Patterson has described the scene at Guyana’s main penitentiary as similar to that of a warzone.

Patterson at a press conference on Wednesday pointed out that the team of Commissioners visited the Prison on Tuesday afternoon and saw the aftermath of the three day unrest.

The other commissioners include former Head of Prisons Dale Erskine, and Human Rights activists Merle Mendonca.

The Commission has been constituted to enquire into all the “causes, circumstances and conditions” surrounding the death of 17 prisoners from the Camp Street Prison.

The inquiry will also investigate the nature of all the injuries sustained by prisoners during the unrest.

Patterson said that on his visit, what he saw “seemed like a war zone that they are now getting back together.”

“I saw two contending factions, one may be described by some as the wretched of the earth and another as their oppressors; it’s sad…We met prison officers who I don’t think have slept in three days,” said the Commission’s Chairman.

FB_IMG_1457113791482With hearings set to commence on Thursday March 10, Patterson declared that all with evidence were invited to present themselves to the Commission of Inquiry.

On the first day of the hearings, the Commission is set to hear the ordeal of five prisoners affected by the Camp Street riot.

“We will do what we have to do,” he emphasized.

Responding to concerns raised by the legal fraternity over the presence of Erskine as one of the Commissioners, Patterson said that comments made by Chris Ram and Ronald Burchsmith are attacks on Erskine.

“You can’t somehow shut out people from saying anything about anybody…I was there when he took an oath to be impartial and I expect him to be that” he said adding that the comments were an “oblique attack on the gentleman’s character.”

In the interim, the Commissioners have recommended counselling for the affected inmates, officers and their families. (Jomo Brusheildon Paul)

  • Col123

    I can understand why the prison can look like a war zone..BUT….passing through many areas around the country, gives you the feeling like you are taking huge risks, with your life and property….There is filth every where and you really would be foolish to walk around most areas with any sum of money….It would take another hundred years to undo the destruction to the environmental and social fabric of our society… post colonialism….

    • KassemB

      ‘….It would take another hundred years to undo the destruction to the environmental and social fabric of our society… post colonialism….’
      So it is colonialism?

      • Col123

        I would fight colonism and imperialism until my last breadth…BUT…I will accept that the fabric of our society in Guyana has rotted…it is tempting to do a manuscript on that as the references are so everywhere…

    • raskilone

      Filth everywhere? You have to be kidding with all the monies spent on the countrywide cleanup campaign! Or was that just to fill the pockets of the loyalists and soup drinkers. Corruption in full flow. 50th anniversary…50% raise…

  • Mother Sally

    The bottom-line is that the fundamental human rights of the prisoners were more than likely violated and as the Commission of Inquiry’s work progresses – more and more filth will likely to rise to the surface as to how the prison system works in Guyana. However, like most Guyanese – please do not hold your breadth expecting any dramatic or significant changes to occur because the poseur in the form of Minister Ramjattan has made it patently clear that he has no time, inclination or resources to consider building a 21st century detention facility.

    The putrid excuse is that Guyana cannot afford it. Sadly, this does not cut it because the same way – they governing APNU-AFC regime has allocated US $30 million to develop D’Urban Park – is the same way they need to allocate resources to address the most fundamental and basic issues in this country. If memory serves one correctly, it is on the premise of improved public security that President Granger had campaigned to get elected to public office and having a proper prison system that is modern, safe, secure and functional in the very real sense. Delivering on a new prison must be seen as full-filling part of his campaign promise to the nation on improved public security. Whilst he is at it, he should give Ramjattan his marching orders given his alienating disposition if Guyanese are to continue taking the Granger Administration seriously.

    • Col123

      Human rights in a drug economy?Human rights with a super rich elite class? Guess who will remain at the bottom on slave subsistence to support massa…Look around a little..

  • Col123

    If this justice ever witnessed a war zone…he will probably ask for combat pay!!!