PPP’s motion on prison fire fails

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, January 10, 2018

An Opposition motion relating to the 2017 Georgetown Prison Fire and moved by PPP Chief Whip Gail Teixeira on behalf of suspended MP Juan Edghill failed to gain the approval of the National Assembly during today’s 83rd sitting.

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan was robust and scathing in his criticism of the motion. He recalled that after being briefed by Prisons Director Gladwin Samuels, the Opposition was loud in praise for the efforts made after the Camp Street Prison riot and its subsequent destruction by fire.

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan.

He noted that this occurred at a Parliamentary Security Oversight Committee meeting. Minister Ramjattan pointed out that there has been constant communication with various PPP members, on issues of concern to them, hence it was false to imply that as the responsible minister of the security sector, he was not cooperative.

The motion sought to impose on the government to accept responsibility for the various and decades-old ills affecting the prison system.

Minister Ramjattan explained that there were several briefings for stakeholders following the July Camp Street Prison fire, including eight media briefings at which all questions asked of him along with top Joint Services personnel, were answered.

The Minister acknowledged taking full responsibility as the minister in charge of Public Security after calls for his resignation was made during the time of the incident. President David Granger later expressed his full confidence in Minister Ramjattan’s ability to execute his duties. Ramjattan, however, highlighted that the Opposition did not see it fit to even consider the same when a motion was brought against his predecessor, Clement Rohee, for his ineptitude.

Minister Ramjattan emphasised that “We are doing that which has to be done,’’ when he outlined the government’s move to rehabilitate and reform the prison system. This includes remission of sentences in special cases to reduce the prison population, legislative reforms, the Citizens Security Strengthening Programme and overseas assistance being provided; as well as the benefits of the Juvenile Justice Bill and the Strategic Management Department of the Prisons.

The many measures and improvements since the prison fire, the minister reiterated, were “things that will take time and money.’’  However, the government remains committed to correcting the many faults inherited.

“We ought to have done better and we will do better,’’ Minister Ramjattan emphasised in closing, even as he cited the need for financing to achieve what all stakeholders desired. “It is not worth even the paper it is written on!’’ he added as he called on his fellow ministers to vote against the PPP-tabled motion.

The motion fell after it failed to win the support of the government side of the house.

 

By: Paul Mc Adam

 

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