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President vows to pardon more convicts

President David Granger addressing the Education Month 2015 rally at the National Park on Friday, October 10, 2015.

President David Granger on Friday vowed to pardon more non-violent persons who were convicted and jailed for petty offences.

Addressing an Education Month rally that was held at the National Park under the theme “Quality Educational Leadership: Improving Schools from Within,” he dismissed critics who have assailed him for the release of 60 prisoners in May, 26.

“Some people are quarreling because a few people who steal cell phones are allowed to get out of jail free… I will do it again next year; young people don’t have a right in jail, they have a right in school like, they have a right in college so I will keep on doing it and my critics will continue complaining,” he told hundreds of students from several schools.

A section of the students who attended the Education Month Rally 2015.The President stressed the importance of children being in schools and universities to become qualified and serve their country. He has previously announced that next year’s national budget would include incentives for parents who ensure their children attend school and eventually university.

Granger has come in for sharp criticism by ordinary Guyanese who say that the release of convicts from prison would and has been contributing to more crimes being committed.

The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) has criticized the secrecy in which the pardons have been granted. “While the Bar Association supports the principle of pardon, we regret that until these questions are answered, there can be no unqualified endorsement of the President’s action,”the association was quoted Friday as saying by the privately-owned Stabroek News newspaper. The GBA queried whether the stipulated procedures were followed in freeing the petty thieves and others convicted for non-violent crimes.

Granger again mentioned that government was doing all it can to provide transportation – boats, buses and bicycles-for children to go to school.

The President echoed Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine’s call for children to grow up respecting each other in a diverse society. “One of the most important rules we have learned is respect for each other. We are a multicultural, multi-ethnic society and one of the most important things we have to learn is respect for each other and respect for ourselves,” he said.