Full disclosure needed
The following motion was tabled in parliament by the PPP for consideration: WHEREAS
Sunday July 9, 2017 will go down in the history of our country as the day when the worse Prison fire and jail break took place, destroying over 80% of the Georgetown Camp Street Prison, 8 prisoners escaped and the death of a prison officer and several others injured;
AND WHEREAS we all watched in horror as the news and the photographs of the fire and jail break went viral on the afternoon of Sunday July 9th; AND WHEREAS the state owned media, NCN, had nothing on for hours except gospel and reggae music and the replaying of an interview of Minister Ramjattan at State House earlier that afternoon on the prison fire; AND WHEREAS the first official communication took place after 10:30 p.m. that night on the NCN with the heads of the Disciplined Forces, followed by a brief interview of Minister
Ramjattan and a pre-recorded interview of the President; AND WHEREAS the lack of information in the first 76 hours caused great anxiety and uncertainty among the families of the prisoners and the general public as to the whereabouts of the prisoners;
AND WHEREAS the members of this House extend our condolences to the family of the deceased prison officer, Mr.Odings Wickham, who died tragically during the horrific events at the Georgetown Prisons Camp Street on July 9 th, and, we send our best wishes for the full
recovery of those officers who were injured during the same incident and are currently hospitalized or recuperating at home;
AND WHEREAS on July 24th, 2017 by way of a public announcement the nation became aware that thirteen (13) additional (real bad) high risk prisoners escaped from the walled area of the Lusignan Prison Pasture;
AND WHEREAS this most recent escape is the third such event, following the March 2016 events at the Georgetown Prisons Camp Street and the July 9th 2017 fire and jailbreak at the same prison revealed a lack of transparency and incompetence on the part of the government to address such events;
AND WHEREAS despite many requests for the public release of the final report and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the March 2016 disturbance and resultant death of 17 prisoners, the report remained a secret document;
AND WHEREAS the public remains in the dark after the July 9th incident with more questions than answers as to what led to the jailbreak and fire , and how the government managed this situation as it unfolded and its aftermath;
AND WHEREAS the public was informed that many of their questions would be answered in the course of a Commission of Inquiry to be appointed by the President.
AND WHEREAS on July 20, 2017 the Minister was reported in the state media as saying there would be no Commission of Inquiry until the escapees were all captured;
AND WHEREAS as a result the questions are expected to be left hanging for an indefinite time;
AND WHEREAS there is no other recourse than to have full disclosure in this National
Assembly on these genuine queries, which surround the following:
i) Why is there a discrepancy in the timeline of when the July 9th Fire and jailbreak
began? What time were the prisoners seen leaving? Who made the sighting?
ii) How did the prisoners access the accelerants that started the fire? How soon will a report from the Guyana Fire Service on this matter be forthcoming?
iii) Why were the majority of Prison Officers on duty on Sunday (July 9, 2017) junior officers? Where were the senior Prison Officers? Why were women Prison Officers dealing with custodial duties?
iv) How was death row inmate, Royden Williams, free in the yard and able to walk out of the jail with the other escapees?
v) Is it true that the prisoners had the keys to individual cells and all cell blocks before the fire broke out? How was that possible?
vi) Gunshots were heard coming from the prison and firemen could not get into the prison due to the danger of being injured; did the prisoners have weapons and how did these come into their possession?
vii) Was t he armory breached? How ? How many weapons are unaccounted for?
viii) When were The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) activated ? If the SOPs were activated why was the Fire Service the first alone to respond?
ix) Was the correct Alert Code given, as detailed in protocols, to the Disciplined Forces?
x) Why were there no roadblocks set up across the City, or along the ECD or EBD corridors in the hours and days immediately following the jailbreak?
xi) What was the nature of police action in Buxton, after reports of gunshots in the area on Sunday night ?
xii) How does the government plan according to the President to “immediately reduce the prison population”
xiii)Is there any truth to reports from inmates that there were attempts to warn Senior Prison officers since Friday July 7th, 2017?
xiv) It is clear that the July9th prison jailbreak and fire was well coordinated and executed. This took time to plan and put into operation. It required inside and outside help. How did the Prison officers, Joint Services etc., have no intelligence of something brewing?
xv) Can the government provide the public with a detailed breakdown of actual number of prisoners in Camp Street prison as of midday on July 9th and a breakdown showing the numbers accounted for and moved to other locations?
xvi) Having seen the deliberate setting of fires in the prison, who made the decision to move prisoners into the Prison Officers Club which was then subsequently set on fire and destroyed?
xvii) Why was the movement of prisoners on the night of July 9th carried out in such a reckless, disorganized and uncoordinated manner ?
xviii) Could the government state how many firemen and trucks, police and GDF officers and ranks including the SWAT, TSU and Riot Squad were called out and were physically present that night?
BE IT RESOLVED that the National Assembly calls on the government in accordance with article 106 (2) of the Guyana Constitution to accept collective responsibility to this House for these repeated events at the prisons of Guyana;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Assembly calls on the government to make a make a full disclosure of all aspects of the deplorable tragedy at the City Jail on July 9th 2017, and to declare what actions are being taken to reduce the opportunities for such situations from re-occurring;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this National Assembly calls on the government to give full disclosure with regard to the circumstances surrounding the most recent escapees of July 24th;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this National Assembly calls for the full disclosure of all aspects of loss of 17 lives and destruction of property that occurred there at the same Prison in March 2016
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this National Assembly lends its support to the Disciplined Forces to ensure public safety and the recapture of all the escapees and the protection of our citizens;
Bishop Juan Edghill Anil Nandlall