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Ramjattan buckles under pressure from Opposition, private sector

Of the 1,018 prisoners who were held at the Camp Street Prison, which was destroyed by fire after Sunday’s (July 9, 2017) break, several persons were given early release. The inmates were moved to the ‘walled area’ of the Lusignan Prison afterwards.

As part of the jailbreak response, President David Granger stated that his government’s plan included a move to “immediately reduce the prison population.”

Since then, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, disclosed, today, that he granted early release to 57 prisoners. “It is my discretion and I acted…I acted under Prison Rule 259,” he said.

In addition to that 57, members of the Magistracy were shuttled to the Lusignan Prison to deal with other inmates. A total of 26 have been granted self-bail by magistrates and eight have had bail reduced to affordable sums and are currently released on bail.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has called on the David Granger-led Coalition government to “fully the identities of persons being granted bail and those being released in any way together with histories” and other information.

Ramjattan, when asked today, stated that he will be releasing the identities of those released. However, he has not given a timeline, within which this will be done.

Notably, the PSC has also stressed the need for the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to monitor wherever possible these persons. There has been no comment on this issue by the government.

Meanwhile, the political Opposition has roasted government for keeping the March 2016 Prison Riots Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report a secret.

As recent as yesterday, Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, questioned why the report was being kept secret. “Is there something adverse in the report?” he questioned, adding that the non-release of the report represents a trend of action from government.

Ramjattan when asked noted that the CoI report will be made public.

On Tuesday (July 10, 2017), a statement from Jagdeo’s office said, “This incident (the Camp Street jailbreak and fire) was repeated not more than one year since a similar episode at the identical location revealed for all, the lack of planning and contingency that prevailed under the Granger Government’s watch.

“The final report and recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that was commissioned after that event were kept secret by the administration. The nation is yet to learn what recommendation was accepted and implemented.

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

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