Jagdeo slams gov’t for prison unrest

– praises security forces

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday expressed condolences to the relatives of the now dead prison officer and commended the security forces for their work during Sunday’s horrific destruction of the Camp Street prison, but blasted the administration for what he described as an “outrageous spectacle of a bumbling inept, incompetent” government in full display.

In the statement, issued almost day after the fire which was set by prisoners who also shot and injured several prison officers, Jagdeo said that the service provided by the joint services attested to their commitment to law and order under dire situations.

“Their sacrifices must be contrasted with the unbelievable incompetence and lack of accountability displayed by those with political responsibility for security at the city jail and law and order in our country,” the Opposition Leader said.

Jagdeo, who was president when five notorious prisoners escaped the same prison and wreaked havoc throughout the country leaving many bodies in their wake, said that although there was paucity of accurate information in the public domain about Sunday’s event it was evidence that the government was inept.

He noted that the incident occurred just more than one year after a similar episode at the “identical location revealed for all, the lack of planning and contingency that prevailed under the Granger government’s watch.” He was referring to the March 2016 fire at the said prison which resulted in the deaths of 17 prisoners. President David Granger had set up a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into that incident and according to Jagdeo the government is yet to indicate to the nation the recommendations that were accepted and implemented.

Though he claimed that the CoI was held in in secrecy, it was in fact open and there were many media reports on the testimonies given.

And while the report was not officially made public the media have reported on the recommendations extensively and government officials, including Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, have disclosed what recommendations were implemented.

“Conducting public policy in secrecy, in spite of public criticism, has now become a defining characteristic feature of this government,” Jagdeo claimed.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader said that his office recognizes the human rights of both the convicted and remand prisoners and reiterated that the state “bears full responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of those detained.”

He called for a full disclosure of Sunday’s incident and of all aspects of the identical tragedy, loss of lives and destruction of property that occurred there in March 2016.

“We urge all Guyanese to extend our full support to our security services as they restore law and order, the statement said. “All of those who are responsible for these tragic events including particularly the politicians must be held accountable.”

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