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Govt should share responsibility for prison riots, Private Sector Commission hints

Representatives of the Private Sector Commission and other stakeholders met with Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud and Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels at Georgetown Club, Camp Street.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) Friday night suggested that government should take some responsibility for Guyana’s two major prison riots in 16 months because a good mechanism to gather and analyse intelligence was scrapped by Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan.

Head of the PSC’s Governance and Security sub-committee, Gerry Gouveia levelled the charge as Ramjattan, Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud and Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels were wrapping up a meeting with members of the business community, trade unionists, religious leaders and private security services at the Georgetown Club.

“In disbanding that when the minister took office, I think he lost a big opportunity in having information to be used as intelligence to preempt these things from happening,” Gouveia told reporters. “We were in the prisons everyday.We were in the prison talking to prisoners, talking to prison officers. every month , I met with the entire echelons of the prison administration dealing with those issues,” he added.

The Public Security Minister and the Director of Prisons declined to speak with the media after their closed-door meeting with stakeholders

Gouveia said the Sentencing Management Board, which was recently re-activated after it was suspended for more than one year, had  between 2010 and 2015 been involved in training prisoners and granting character certificates and skilled certificates, the provision of acceptable food and other conditions.

The PSC called on government to immediately re-establish the Law and Order Commission that had included the police and prison chiefs and members of the civil society

“I believe that the Law and Order Commission was a vital forum, a monthly forum that was chaired by the Minister and I believe that the Minister should re-activate the Law and Order Commission….It was a place where a lot of information was being fed into the system  that could then be translated and used as intelligence,” said the former Chairman of the Law and Order Commission. Asked what was the reaction to that call that was issued in the closed-door meeting, he said there was none.

Back in March 2016,  17 inmates were burnt to death when prisoners burnt a section of the Camp Street jail. The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and the Prisons Director have labelled as “miraculous” the fact that no inmate was burnt during the Sunday, July 9, 2017 fire that destroyed the entire Camp Street jail except for one concrete building.

The former head of the PSC, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana also expressed concern about the low pay and working conditions of prison officers. “The past government and this government are not paying enough attention to the welfare and salary of the prison officers,” he said. Prison Officer Odinga Wickham was shot and killed during Sunday’s fire. Several others are still hospitalised and recuperating from chop and shot wounds.

  • Second Coming

    Of course the government must share some responsibility, but it had nothing to do with scrapping any intelligence gathering and analyzing mechanism, as Gerry, the PPP beneficiary and apologist, would have us believe.
    Government simply failed to stop the overcrowding by allowing magistrates to keep locking up non-violent offenders. Government also failed to stop prison officers from promoting corruption among prisoners.
    Same thing is happening with the police force. Same thing is happening in government. The Jagdeo disease has afflicted the entire nation. Ask Gerry, a Jagdeo crony.

    • Col123

      It was like that SINCE independence SC…WHY such short term memory!..the whole damn place stinks like some area in Africa and India, with corruption and other things I can’t mention here…How many places in this world do you see Africans and Indians running where it doesn’t stinks?…were you born this morning?

  • Orin Peters

    If mr Gouveia is saying that mr Ramjattan should take some blame for the prison riot can mr Gouveia and his company tell the guyanese people why he should not be blame for Dukes lodge purchase and mr Jagdeo take some blame for Sanata Textile to his best friend Ramroop people yuh see that Country call Guyana you see how Jagdeo and he friend bareface and have no shame

  • Fedup / GT


    • Col123

      The whole country should share the responsibility for the state of the country…including myself…

      • rs dasai

        And me too.

        • Col123

          the good good life soon come to the mother land…that navel string chook deh thingy is true!

  • Glassflower

    Not sure how the PSC became such a big stakeholder in the administration of Prisons, handling criminals and criminal behaviour, and now dealing with this big royal mess we have on our hands. Instead why aren’t we having URGENT meetings with experts in the relevant fields particularly Criminology, Psychology & Counselling, maybe a few Corrections and Parole Officers and so forth to help analyze, evaluate and recommend some avenues for a way forward?
    Looks like we are still lost and looking in the wrong direction for help.

  • Glassflower

    Stop looking for who is to be blamed and start finding solutions! All these roundtable diplomatic discussions. Maybe the PSC should kindly donate some materials to start constructing a prison so we can get on with life. Yall wasting time pointing fingers! Be the change you wish to see in the world!

  • rs dasai

    Why is it that the GVt is always being blamed for the transgressions of its citizens?
    Are we not individually responsible for our actions? Do not blame blame others. Yes,
    the Gvt has a crystal ball to see in to the future.

  • shovid