He was at the time making his contribution to the debate on the opposition sponsored motion on the “2017 Georgetown Prison Fire and Jailbreak”.
Gill explained that while in the opposition, the then Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC) wrote in the Kaieteur News on June 14, 2009 demanding that Rohee quit as minister in charge of security.
Ramjattan said: “The convention of individual ministerial responsibility fixes blame on a Minister for all failure of policy and administration whether the Minister himself is at fault or not; and, harsh as it may sound, even if the failure resulted from departmental mal-administration. A Minister must take praise for successes of his department, and blame for its failures.
Moreover, a Minister is required to provide full and accurate information to Parliament; must behave himself with candour; and, must not mislead Parliament knowingly. This is in addition to not using public resources for his personal purposes…”
Gill also reminded that it was the APNU who argued that it had bountiful security experts within its midst.
“But with all the expertise at its disposal, since then, we’ve had 17 prisoners burnt to death; a Prison Officer killed; the Camp Street Prison almost completely destroyed; and several well-organized prison breaks. And the Minister of Public Security is yet to accept ministerial responsibility,” he contended.
Gill lamented that Regardless of reports that number of serious crime is on the decline, the reality is that the citizens of this country no longer feel safe in their homes and on the street.
In quoting a Peeping Tom article, he outlined that how frequent crimes are occurring in the country.
“A woman, last Thursday, escaped becoming the victim of an armed attack in the city when the car in which she was seated was stormed by two men. One day earlier, bandits relieved a miner of his expensive gold chain in Linden. The day before, a school teacher was waylaid and robbed of 1.2 million dollars after making the withdrawal from a bank. On New Year’s Night, an America street jeweller was robbed. On the same day, a city resident was robbed of over $400,000 in valuables. Three days earlier a staffer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation was about to enter the Guyana Power and Light when she was pounced upon and her handbag containing her belongings was taken from her. On the same day, three foreign businesspersons were robbed on the East Bank.”
Under Ramjattan’s watch, the country experienced some of the biggest national security disasters whereby a number of prisoners broke out of jail and the main penitentiary was completely gutted by fire during a massive prison riot.
On March 3rd 2016, seventeen (17) inmates were burnt to death in the Camp Street Prison, and eleven (11) others were injured in what was then described as the worst prison riot in memory.
Gill explained that during the Commission of Inquiry that followed, Prison Officer Benjamin testified that several system defects at the Camp Street Prison, gave rise to the possibility for prisoners to escape their dorms and ultimately the prison compound.
“It is a known fact that the severe prison over-crowding and the sub-human conditions that existed in that jail, are mainly responsible for what eventually occurred. Could this have been prevented? Well, let me put it another way: Given all the information that came out of the Commission of Inquiry, was enough done by this government to prevent the tragedy of the 2016 Prison riot and the death of the 17 inmates from repeating itself? Absolutely not! The failure to fully implement the recommendations of the COI suggests a lot more needed to be done,” he contended.
Gill observed that there were no urgency to alleviate the overcrowding; there were still a heavy back-log of remand cases to be heard, and still too few trained Prison Officers to deal with a constantly growing prison population.
“In fact, conditions that caused the prison break in 2016, were identical to those that existed on Sunday, July 9, 2017 when another disaster struck. A mere sixteen (16) months later,” he said.
This time, the Camp Street Prison was burnt to the ground. And during the mayhem, one prison officer was killed and several others were injured. And, eight notorious, hard-core criminals escaped; two of whom are still on the run.
Then, just when it seemed that things could not get any worse, on July 24, a mere 2 weeks after the inferno that destroyed the Camp Street Jail, 13 more prisoners crawled to freedom through a tunnel they had dug under a fence at the Lusignan holding facility.