More productive cooperation needed from elected leaders

-religious groups urge

Religious groups yesterday urged elected national leaders to commit to working together more productively in order to ensure peace and development.

“We believe Guyana can make greater progress towards peace and development if there is a commitment from our elected national leaders to work together more productively, beginning in Parliament and radiating outwards to the rest of the country,” the leaders of the Anglican Diocese of Guyana, the Guyana Presbyterian Church, the Inter-Religious Organisation, the Practical Christian Ministries and the Roman Catholic Church said in a joint statement.

They group said that last week Friday, their representatives had cause to attend a sitting of the National Assembly “to express concern about civility and conduct in our Parliament and our country, and the example that the former should provide to the latter.” At that sitting, they noted that Speaker Barton Scotland had referenced the previous sitting and told Members of Parliament that by their conduct, they gave to the public, on whose behalf they claim to act “at best, a poor lesson in parliamentary decorum.”

The group said it was concerned that such behavior is permeating into the society, and contributing to both socio-political and institutional breakdowns, which are too often characterised by human rights abuses that generate the kind of “violence, trauma and mayhem” experienced on July 9, when six inmates broke out of the Camp Street Prison, which was devastated by a fire.

According to the group, continued challenges within the justice system, including as relates to bail, remand, delays, sentencing, draconian laws, and jail conditions, indicate that the judiciary and the government must urgently redouble their efforts to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the March, 2016 fire that left 17 prisoners dead at the Camp Street jail. “We also plead that the causes of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders be urgently addressed in order to reduce unbearably high levels of crime, particularly violent crime. To this end, we pray for all victims of crime and violence, and for the healing of their traumas,” the statement added.

In the aftermath of the recent prison fire, the leaders of the five organisations said they are praying for the family of deceased prison officer Odinga Wain Wickham, for the speedy recovery of the injured, and for the removal of the circumstances that led to the tragedy.

 

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