People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary and former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee
PPP General Secretary and former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee
insists that Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan is to be blamed for the deadly prison riot and as such, again calls for his immediate dismissal or resignation.
“Lying at the feet of Ramjattan and indeed the Granger Administration are 17, not three dead bodies,” Rohee exclaimed, referring to when a no-confidence motion was passed against him following the deaths of three individuals in the Linden unrest in 2012.
“(I) was prevented from speaking by the then Opposition by disrupting the proceedings of the House and they refused to pass any Bills or Motions laid in the House in the name of the said Minister,” he recollected.
In comparing the track records of the two Administrations, Rohee contended that his Government never presided over a riot of such magnitude as the one that recently took place which claimed the lives of 17 prisoners with more than a dozen injured.
“The Granger Administration stands condemned. Heads must roll for this unforgiveable and unforgettably episode in the hierarchy of the security sector in general and the Prison Service in particular,” Rohee declared.
However, when reminded of the 2002 jailbreak during which five dangerous criminals shot and stabbed
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan
their way out of the Camp Street Prison and subsequently unleashed terror across Guyana, Rohee accused media operatives of justifying the Government’s shortcomings.
He also pointed out that both the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), while in Opposition, claimed to have all the answers to the security concerns in the country.
“The APNU/AFC Administration came to power fooling the Guyanese electorate that they are most knowledgeable and best prepared to handle public safety and security in Guyana,” he stated.
On that note, Rohee posited that the Camp Street Prison unrest basically shattered the myth that the current Administration was the best equipped to manage the country’s security sector.
The former Minister also used the opportunity to admit that his Administration failed to leave behind a perfect system, but he indicated that the present Government now has to pick up from where the PPP/Civic left off.
Solutions and reforms
Rohee also renewed calls for the current Administration to take immediate steps to implement the prison reform plan that had been created under the former Government.
“The blueprint is there for them to examine carefully and to press ahead with implementation of the strategic plan for prison reform,” he stated.
Rohee explained that the implementation of the strategic plan was aimed at enhancing the transformation process which had already begun with the establishment of a sentence management board, the recruitment and training board, the agricultural development board, the prison’s visiting committee and a training college.
Basically, the reform plan outlines that the Timehri Prison should house those prisoners who, to a larger extent, are first offenders. Also, the Timehri Prison was earmarked to become an industrial hub where the inmates would be engaged in industrialised activities such as masonry. The Lusignan Prison was slated to be transformed into a model prison for first offenders who are charged for small offences like possession of marijuana and/or for those who are on remand awaiting trial. Additionally, the Lusignan Prison would have placed much emphasis on educational reform.
Furthermore, both the New Amsterdam Prison and the Mazaruni Prison were identified to become self-sufficient.
The New Amsterdam Prison was to be used mainly for poultry production, whereas the Mazaruni would have focused on cash crops and livestock.
Rohee explained that the produce could have been used internally and also sold to the various markets.
He also disclosed that inmates at the Mazaruni Prison had already undertaken furniture making and were, in fact, the ones supplying quality furniture for the Family Court.
Moreover, Rohee explained that the prison reform plan includes steps to be taken towards implementing community service sentencing whereby individuals on minor offences would be punished by doing community work rather than occupying space in prisons.