President announces emergency plan in wake of prison break

Following yesterday’s Camp Street Prison riot, the Government has approved the immediate implementation of a four-part emergency plan, which includes the erection of temporary structures to house the displaced prisoners, the completion of a recovery operation to account for every single prisoner, implementation of legal measures to immediately reduce the prison population and the immediate apprehension of the five inmates, who escaped.

This is according to President David Granger, who in an address to the nation this evening, assured citizens that the National Security Council, which held its second meeting at Camp Ayanganna today, will continue to remain engaged to coordinate and implement immediate measures to ensure that the situation remains stable and secure.

“The Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Fire Service are working together to ensure public safety. A manhunt is being executed, air and ground patrols are being conducted and vigilance has been heightened on roadway and at key points,” the Commander-in-Chief said, according to a release from the Ministry of the Presidency.

By the end of today, close to 300 inmates should be relocated to various detention facilities across the country, including at Mazaruni, New Amsterdam and Timehri, the release said. The remainder will be kept at Lusignan, where temporary facilities are currently being installed by engineers from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. Tents, in addition to the portable toilets, are being set up to protect inmates from the elements, while construction starts on three holding shelters, washrooms and reinforced gates. A budget of $18M has been approved for these works.

The release said that Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan informed that six magistrates from different magisterial districts were at the Lusignan Prison to review the records of inmates, who are eligible for release between now and August, for the purposes of early release. They are also looking at releasing on their own recognisance, inmates, who have been detained for minor, non-violent offences and reducing bail for those who could not have afforded to post the initial court-ordered figure.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, who was part of the meeting, also disclosed that his Ministry in collaboration with the Guyana Fire Service and the Guyana Prison Service will begin the process of removing debris at Camp Street and restorative works will be carried out on the brick prison located within the precincts of that facility. This building, which sustained minor damage from the fire, has the capacity to house about 250 prisoners.

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