NGOs and decent citizens should add their voices to a call for penal reform

Dear Editor,

The Kaieteur News article of December 11, 2012 entitled ‘Cobra transferred from Georgetown Prison after 23 months in solitary confinement‘ has got to be wrong.

Who can believe that in these days of social enlightenment that we can even conceive keeping a human being in an area smaller than many dog kennels? I am outraged that we are so barbaric as to confine prisoners to a six foot by three foot cell for almost two years. We don’t even treat dogs that way! Can you imagine the public outcry if someone was found keeping a dog locked up for two years and letting it out for just fifteen minutes a day?

According to one study, “Isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture.” In fact, several international human rights treatises consider that solitary confinement “fits the definition of torture, and is therefore a violation of human rights.”  Many studies have also shown that prison isolation can result in “severe and lasting psychological damage for inmates isolated for extended periods” and places prisoners “at grave risk of even more devastating future psychological harm.”

Almost twenty years ago, Miles Fitzpatrick, Brendan de Caires and I were tasked by the then Minister of Home Affairs to look into the conditions of the Camp Street prison. What we saw was revolting, and we made several recommendations for improvement. Over the following years, several revolts by prisoners indicated that conditions had improved. A few years ago the Minister of Home Affairs was challenged on the conditions of the Brickdam lockup. His response was that prisoners could not expect the conditions of the Hilton hotel. So nothing has changed over the past twenty years.

I call on all human rights entities, churches, NGOs and all caring and decent citizens to add their voices to a call for penal reform. By treating fellow humans in the way we do at present, we define ourselves and our society as primitive and sadistic.

Regardless of their offences, prisoners are human beings and must be treated as such. This torture and violation of their human rights must stop.

Yours faithfully,
Clairmont Lye

More in Letters


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning:

Most Read This Week

  1. Back in court: In this Keno George composite photo, Barry Dataram (left) and his wife Anjanie Boodnarine at court yesterday to answer three charges including fleeing the jurisdiction.

    Dataram to serve eight years in jail after guilty plea to new charges

  2. Fast food lovers inside KFC yesterday

    KFC back in business

  3. Ameer Abdool Subrati

    Man dies after bandits target overseas-based couple at Herstelling

  4. Updated: Man dies after bandits attack overseas-based Guyanese at Herstelling

  5. Barry Dataram

    Datarams getaway passports had been issued to other people

  6. Bharrat Jagdeo

    Crime has never been this bad – Jagdeo

  7. The building housing the home and grocery

    Bandits invade Alness businessman’s house, shots fired

  8. The ganja found in Prashad Nagar (Police photo)

    Police find 52 lbs of ganja in Prashad Nagar house

  9. Alimudeen Gobin’s demolished house

    Violent storm lashes No. 19 Village

Recommended For You