Con­cerned pri­vate sec­tor meets Ram­jat­tan on se­cu­rity

Stabroek News Sunday - - NEWS -

The Pri­vate Sec­tor Com­mis­sion (PSC) last Tues­day met with Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Khem­raj Ram­jat­tan and a high-level se­cu­rity team on its con­cerns over the re­cent Camp Street Prison fire and prison break­outs, which it says has un­der­mined pub­lic con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to en­sure pub­lic se­cu­rity.

The PSC yes­ter­day said it met with Ram­jat­tan on the ad­vice of Pres­i­dent David Granger, to whom it has re­lated its con­cerns about the lack of con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to en­sure the se­cu­rity of the coun­try and the safety of the cit­i­zenry.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued yes­ter­day by the PSC, it used the oc­ca­sion of the meet­ing with Ram­jat­tan, act­ing Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice David Ram­nar­ine and the act­ing Direc­tor of Pris­ons Glad­win Sa­muels to re­it­er­ate its con­cern over the ero­sion of pub­lic se­cu­rity and safety. It said too that it pointed out that the is­sue of pub­lic con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment is ex­ac­er­bated by the fact that, to date, “no one, at any level has been held ac­count­able” and no one charged for the re­cent events.

“The Com­mis­sion em­pha­sised the se­ri­ous dam­age that these events have caused to in­vestor con­fi­dence here, at home and abroad, and to tourism and un­der­lined the fact that sched­uled busi­ness visits from abroad and planned events have ei­ther been post­poned or re­lo­cated,” it said.

“The Com­mis­sion fur­ther ex­pressed its con­cern over the in­abil­ity of the po­lice to ef­fec­tively curb the in­ci­dence of vi­o­lent crime reach­ing into busi­ness places and homes across the coun­try. Our cit­i­zens, the Com­mis­sion stressed, are now liv­ing in a con­stant state of fear,” it added.

For his part, Ram­jat­tan, the state­ment said, ac­knowl­edged the need for the ur­gent restora­tion of pub­lic con­fi­dence in the se­cu­rity and safety of the prison sys­tem and was “open and frank” in ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges faced by the coun­try from the threat of vi­o­lent crime. It said he as­sured that ev­ery ef­fort was be­ing made to re­cap­ture the es­capees who are still at large and to re­turn the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion to nor­malcy.

Ram­nar­ine, the state­ment added, in­formed that the po­lice are con­duct­ing an ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Camp Street prison fire and it is al­most com­pleted.

It noted too that Ram­jat­tan pro­vided a “com­pre­hen­sive and con­fi­den­tial” brief on the cur­rent and ac­cel­er­ated steps be­ing taken to put in place a fully func­tion­ing prison sys­tem, but pointed out that gross over­crowd­ing, ne­glected over a long num­ber of years, will de­mand sub­stan­tial sums of money not read­ily avail­able to con­struct a new and ex­panded sys­tem suf­fi­cient to ac­com­mo­date the present prison pop­u­la­tion.

Ram­jat­tan, the state­ment fur­ther said, pointed out that a ma­jor con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the over­crowd­ing of the pris­ons is the ex­tra­or­di­nary num­ber of re­manded pris­on­ers, re­sult­ing from the “un­nec­es­sar­ily high” bail be­ing as­signed for “rel­a­tively mi­nor of­fences.” He told the Com­mis­sion that he was ac­tively en­gaged in en­gag­ing the ju­di­ciary with re­gard to a so­lu­tion to the prob­lem.

Ram­jat­tan also con­firmed that the Prison Sen­tence Man­age­ment Board has been ap­pointed. The cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion had been pre­vi­ously crit­i­cised for dis­band­ing the board.

Mean­while, the state­ment said Sa­muels made a com­pre­hen­sive sta­tis­ti­cal pre­sen­ta­tion in which he charted the cur­rent and his­tor­i­cal sta­tus of pris­on­ers both in the sys­tem and at large and largely pro­vided an­swers to many of the ques­tions asked in the pub­lic about the num­bers and lo­ca­tions of the prison pop­u­la­tion. The PSC said it strongly rec­om­mended to Ram­jat­tan that he make the pre­sen­ta­tion pub­lic since it would go a long way to­wards re­as­sur­ing the pub­lic that the au­thor­i­ties were in con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion.

On the ques­tion of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of con­victed pris­on­ers, the state­ment noted that Ram­jat­tan and his team out­lined the sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts and ar­range­ments in place, in spite of ex­tremely lim­ited re­sources and space, to en­sure that re­leased pris­on­ers were able to be gain­fully em­ployed on their rein­te­gra­tion into so­ci­ety. He, how­ever, lamented the fact that, gen­er­ally, in Guyana, the stigma at­tached to ex­con­victs made it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to find em­ploy­ment for them, it added. (Pri­vate Sec­tor Com­mis­sion photo)

Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Khem­raj Ram­jat­tan (fifth from right), act­ing Po­lice Com­mis­sioner David Ram­nar­ine (sixth from right) and act­ing Pris­ons Direc­tor Glad­win Sa­muels (at ex­treme right) with mem­bers of the Pri­vate Sec­tor Com­mis­sion

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