The Ministry of Public Security yesterday confirmed that eight inmates were shot during efforts to quell the unrest at the Lusignan Prison on Monday evening and order was eventually restored at the facility early yesterday morning.
In a press release yesterday, the ministry said acting Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels met with inmates at their request and he received complaints about the facility’s physical infrastructure, prisoners not receiving lunch, periods of imprisonment and the behaviour of some of the junior ranks. The ministry said these concerns were noted and actions will be taken where necessary.
The United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent last year called for the Lusignan Prison to be closed down without delay, saying that the facility is “not fit for human habitation.”
The recommendation followed a five-day visit to Guyana and the Group issued a raft of recommendations addressing the state of the country’s penal system, stating that steps should be taken to improve the infrastructure and hygienic conditions within prisons, bringing them within international standards.
Monday’s unrest began around 4.16 pm in a holding bay of the prison, from which three inmates had escaped earlier.
The ministry said that during the unrest, the prisoners hurled hundreds of missiles directly at officers, damaged the inner holding bay fences and exited the confined area. “They then focused their attention on gaining access to the gate that allows exit from the location by using several items to hit the gate but they were unsuccessful in their attempt,” the release noted.
At the time, the release explained, a total of 558 inmates were at the facility, with 80 ranks from the prison, police and fire services on duty.
It further stated that several attempts were made by ranks to enter the location with the use of shields, but due to the size and amount of the missiles being tossed, they were forced to retreat to a point of safety.
As a result, ranks were forced to use pellets as a last resort. “As this approach also failed, various calibres of live rounds were directed in the air,” the statement added.
This resulted in the eight inmates being injured.
They have been identified by the ministry as Cleveland Williams, Lester Joseph, Teaive Cush, Raymond Jones, Corwyn Arthur, Anirudh Prashad, Lakeram Singh and Lexroy Rigby.
Six of the men rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where they were treated before being transferred to the Georgetown Prison. The other two received medical attention on site.
Meanwhile, the ministry said prisoners continued to throw various missiles, damaging four perimeter lights. They then started to set fire to items, mattresses and pallets were placed along the inside of the fence and set ablaze. “The fires caused damage to the monitoring room with the CCTV cameras,” the release further explained.
After the meeting between Samuels and the inmates, it noted, the situation remained calm up until 11 pm, when standby units were increased since prisoners from holding bay one and two started breaking the inner fence. Nevertheless, this stopped about 12.30 am.
Hours before the unrest, three inmates; Dextroy Pollard, Travis Evans and Sudesh Dyal had escaped from the holding bay by scaling the fence.
They were no sightings of the men yesterday.
However, sources told this newspaper that the two incidents—the escape and the unrest—were not related.