The Private Sector Commission Statement on the Current Security Situation

The Private Sector
Commission Statement on the Current Security Situation

The Private Sector Commission takes this opportunity to
offer its condolences to the family of Prison officer Odinga
Wickham and encourage all Guyanese to remember the injured prison staff and
prisoners in our prayers and hope they have a speedy recovery.

We wish to thank the officers and ranks of the Guyana Prison
Service who single handedly and alone battled the raging inferno and revolting
prisoners before reinforcements of police begin to arrive at the Georgetown
prisons.

The ranks of the Guyana Fire Service also need to be
commended for their brave efforts at fighting the raging inferno in the prison
compound while facing off violent attacks by the revolting prisoners.

We thank the Army and Police for their successful efforts at
the containment of what could have been a larger disaster in our country in
terms of loss of life and serious threat to public safety and security.

The PSC has taken
note of the reported events that led up to the fire at the Camp Street Prison
and the resultant state of fear and apprehension that now exist in the society.
Over many years the PSC and its affiliates have followed with disappointment
the slow pace of addressing and implementing measures to mitigate the results
of a slow court system, the mixing of remand and other prisoners with serious
crime prisoners and other causal factors that has placed us where we are with
regards to prison management.
We note that the deterioration of the prison system was not paid enough
attention to by our Political leaders generally over time.
Efforts to speed up the decision making of the judiciary was not enough which
has resulted in overcrowding, corruption and general decay of a once successful
system.
The PSC urges the Government of Guyana to declare fully the identities of
persons being granted bail and those being released in any way together with
histories and other information and also for the police to monitor wherever
possible these persons.
We urge the authorities to publish the true and accurate count of prisoners
held prior to the incident, the amount transferred and the unaccounted
prisoners. The lack of accurate official information has created much room for
speculation and is fueling fear in our society.
We also note with awe the statement by Minister Ramjattan
that ‘when you are going to serve a five year
term—–If you are of good behavior, you can get some remission from me. I can
give you as the Minister and the authority.’(Guyana
Chronicle July 10th). The PSC having sought legal advice is of the view that
the Minister is not empowered to do so and that this statement should be
corrected.
The Private Sector Commission is disappointed that much of the COI on the
Prisons WAS NOT IMPLEMENTED and monies allocated by the Ministry of Finance to
the Ministry of Public Security remained unspent.
We urge Minister Ramjattan and his Ministry and the
Cabinet to do more and recommend the following actions to be taken.
1. Immediately fast track the modification of the Mazaruni
Prison.
2. The facilities in Georgetown should be for Prisoners awaiting trial only.
3. Ensure more Civil Society leaders are placed on Prison related
Boards.
4. Immediately look at working conditions for Prison officers.
5. Push the Judiciary harder to catch up on back logs.
6. Consider Privatizing the Prison system.
7. Review proposals for the establishment of a half- way house in the
rehabilitative process.
We are sure that the responsible Minister is aware of what else should be done.
We need to get it done faster.
We urge the Government of Guyana to ensure that by the re-capturing of the
dangerous prisoners that are on the loose, that the stability of our society is
ensured. Simultaneously we urge the citizens to report any and all suspicious
incidents to the Guyana Police force.
The re-occurrences of Sunday must not be repeated. It could have been much
worse. The PSC HOLDS THE Government of Guyana accountable and ask that top
priority be given to the entire process of Prison reform.

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