The Ministry of Legal Affairs says it is moving apace to address the issue of overcrowding at the prisons.
According to the Ministry in a statement, “since the previous prison unrest and fire on March 3, 2016, at the Georgetown Prison, the Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Legal Affairs, has been assiduously moving apace to address the issue of overcrowding at the prisons.”
To this end, the Government has secured financing in the form of a US$8M loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the “Support for the Criminal Justice System Project”.
The project, according to the release, became eligible for funding on June 16, 2017. The key objectives of the project are reducing the use of pre-trial detention and increasing the use of alternative sentencing.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs, Supreme Court of Judicature, Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Social Protection; and the Ministry of Finance are the main stakeholders of this project.
Moreover, in being the executing agency, the Ministry of Legal Affairs will oversee the project.
Earlier this week, the scheduled project launch was cancelled due to the recent prison disturbance.
However, the Legal Affairs Ministry said that the project workshop was held and the key outputs discussed were “establishing a Legal Aid pilot project which will provide legal assistance to persons accused of minor, non-violent offenses in pre-trial detention; enhancing the DPP and Police Prosecutors capacities to handle their cases before they proceed to trial; building capacity enhancement at the Magistracy Level to expedite cases and address alternative sentencing; implementing a restorative justice pilot project under the Ministry of Legal Affairs to solve minor offenses or disputes; strengthening of the Probation Service Department to perform adequate follow up of treatments delivered in and after prison, so as to better tend to the rehabilitative needs of those who present a lesser risk of reoffending; and strengthening the Law Reform Commission at the Ministry of Legal Affairs in its role of drafting new legislations, introducing non-custodial sanctions suitable for different types of offenses.”
A Project Steering Committee, chaired by the Ministry of Legal Affairs, has been established to provide oversight and strategic direction for the project.