When it was first announced that a Board of Inquiry was to be convened to look into the mass negligence and resulting deaths at the Georgetown Prison, many of us waited patiently for them to correct the phraseology…because we know a Board of Inquiry is the military equivalent to the Commission of Inquiry which, under the circumstances, would be the prevailing law to under which to examine the detrimental practices of the Guyana prison Services.
That part has been corrected.
What hasn’t been corrected is the selection of three Commission members who are steeped in the wrong doing of the prison system.
A Commission of Inquiry is not a government safety valve to activate when there is crisis of incomprehensible magnitude; a default position to give the appearance of resolving issues of detriment.
A Commission of Inquiry is a fact finding body established to uncover the causes of events that lead to detrimental outcomes – in this case death and serious accident. With this being its nature, its members must be people who are not biased, not of questionable ethics, not partial, not of compromised integrity.
There is no mystery to be unraveled here. This prison has been rioting for the past two decades and if the government were doing its job, then adequate documentation would be available to retrace the existence of grievances.
The Setting up of any Commission is an expensive affair, and in the context of its operations, the tax payer loses lots of money. And when it is convened to appease, to hoodwink, to dupe, it’s a double infraction against any government, especially one that remains saddled with the amorality of the previous Administration and the baggage of its seedy, villainous, unsavory personnel.
This is a good point at which to demand that Dale Erskine be removed from this Inquiry. Everything that led up to the deaths of those seventeen inmates was overseen by Erskine. Minister Ramjattan knows this.
This is a good point,too, at which to demand that Merle Mendonca be removed from this Inquiry. Inasmuch, as she was the Human rights representative for several years when Erskine headed the system, she never recorded one human rights violation. Such a person cannot now offer findings of fact.
Justice Patterson, though to a lesser extent, is just as tainted. He sentenced many to this prison system that he had to know was a cesspool of humanity. To claim otherwise would be to perjure himself.
And Minister Ramjattan needs to be reminded that he works for the people and remains accountable to them. To select this compromised crew to make recommendations does not only undermine the efficacy of the Commission but it confirms that he is just knee-jerking into operation and has not given expected thought into how these very partial overseers could befoul the findings of a COI.
These are some of the things this COI has to weigh in to its report and especially because its members were an integral part of the prison system that failed so ingloriously, all the way up until seventeen people died while behind bars, it is judicious, sagacious, to conclude that diluting findings, downplaying infractions, glossing over failures would not be beyond this questionable crew that is now tasked with indicting itself.
Minister Ramjattan has not only disappointed many with this pick but it is seen as so deliberately calculating to reduce the gravity of the findings, that his leadership is now under re-evaluation by many who supported him.
But, the ultimate decision on this one lies with President Granger. He may have inherited the demise but he did not inherit this Commission Of Inquiry.
Ramjattan has erred and has done so egregiously.
To assemble the very people –particularly Erskine – who machinated, ruminated, calculated and implemented this fiendish form of cruel and inhuman treatment of those who become the wards of the state when they are incarcerated, is not only to mock our collective intelligence but to revert to the very systems that we denounced under the PPP government; systems that held a permanent spot for Guyana on International lists like Amnesty International and United Nations Human Rights Watch – tainting the image of every Guyanese because the government itself was contaminated by gross wrong doing in every iota, every sphere of government.
The President has the last say on this one. He has the helm and thus, the control to correct the course that this counterfeit COI has set for this government and this country that began its journey to repair and restoration just a few months ago.
We respectfully request that he steps in immediately and cleans up this pile of feculence that Minister Ramjattan has left on the door steps of this government.
It’s early enough to be picked up without residue…a neat, swift clean scoop; like the BOI was changed to COI.
With due respect Mr. President, we’re waiting.