Deadly Drop-In Centre fire: Gov’t awaiting report of inquiry to decide on compensation

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Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said the State would await the report of the Commission of Inquiry to decide on compensation for the parents of two-year-old Joshua George and his brother, six-year-old Antonio George who were killed on Friday, July 8, when fire ravaged the Drop-In Centre on Hadfield Street, Georgetown.

“The family has been contacted by the Ministry of Social Protection and they have been given some level of comfort. As far as compensation is concerned, we await the findings of the Commission,” he noted.

Former Guyana Defence Force officer, Colonel Windee Algernon, was on Friday sworn in at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Magistrate Fabayo Azore as the sole Commissioner who will determine the cause and conditions that led to the death of the two boys while in the State’s custody at the child care..

Following the tragic deaths, President David Granger ordered a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the incident.

Former GDF officer, Colonel Windee Algernon
Former GDF officer, Colonel Windee Algernon

Colonel Algernon, who was appointed as Commissioner on Thursday, was on Friday morning installed in the presence of Minister Harmon.

The Commissioner was expected to commence work from as early as the day of installation.

Following the brief ceremony, Algernon expressed her elation to have been selected by President David Granger to serve in that capacity.

Minister Harmon noted that Algernon will be expected to make comprehensive recommendations to ensure the safety of children at the Hadfield Street location.

Harmon pointed out, “His Excellency has asked that a preliminary report be presented to him by July 22 and that the final report should be in by August 15, if the Commissioner finds that she needs additional time, his Excellency might be inclined to give that extension.”

Algernon is expected to determine the severity of the injuries the children sustained at the Drop-In Centre and the conditions they were exposed to.

The Commissioner has also been tasked with establishing whether the conduct of the staff at the Drop-In Centre was in compliance with the required obligations of the State and standard operating procedures.

 

According to reports, just after midnight on Friday last, the two young brothers perished in a fire.

It was reported that the elder brother Antonio was asleep in the dormitory when the fire started and as the younger brother Joshua was being taken out of the building by caregivers, he realised his brother was not with him.

The two-year-old managed to release himself from the grip of the caregiver and ran back into the burning building. The two brothers were trapped in the building and their charred remains were subsequently recovered.

 

 

 

 

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