President David Granger says the “March disturbances” at the Camp Street Prison which led to the deaths of 17 prisoners was a result of the previous administration’s negligence.
Responding to questions on “The Public Interest” last week, the President said that when the coalition took over the government in May last year it met a “stack of unimplemented recommendations” from previous inquiries into the prison system and from the Disciplined Forces Commission.
Asked if recommendations from the inquiry into the prison system after the 2002 jailbreak were implemented the President said, “It’s more than that. That inquiry was held in the wake of the Mashramani jail break of 2002. Most [recommendations] were not implemented by the very administration which convened the inquiry. I had the benefit after that of being a member of the Disciplined Forces Commission and even then we made recommendations which were not implemented by the previous administration so when the present administration got into office there was a stack of unimplemented recommendations.
That is what caused the crisis if they had been implemented 10 or 15 years ago when they were made we would not have had the crisis last March.”
The President said his government would like the public to get the benefit of findings from the Prison CoI which he notes has gone on too long. He maintained that his government will not ignore the recommendations, which he believes could lead to resolution of many problems faced in the prison service.
The CoI which has been set up to inquire into all the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 17 inmates who perished in a fire at the prison on March 3 comprises former Justice James Patterson (Chairman), human rights activist Merle Mendonca and former prisons director Dale Erskine.
Its Terms of Reference include investigating, examining and reporting on the causes, circumstances and conditions that led to the fatal disturbances and also determining whether the conduct of the staff of the Guyana Prison Service in any way contributed to the prisoners’ deaths. It is also to make recommendations on any action that should be taken to avoid a recurrence.