Retired Justice, James Patterson, who served as Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deadly Camp Street Prison riots has expressed gratitude at being a part of the Commission and urged the Government of Guyana to quickly implement the recommendations.
“We should proceed along our journey with the hope that those efforts would bear fruit in a timely manner… and I would urge your Excellency with the due diligence that you always deploy, look at the recommendations that we have made. It is hoped that they will be executed in a timely manner because they deserve to be executed,” the retired Justice opined.
The report on the findings of the CoI was finally handed over to President David Granger on Wednesday at a simple ceremony at the Ministry of the Presidency.
President Granger thanked the Commissioners for their efforts in executing their tasks.
“I am grateful, the Republic and the Ministry of Public Security are grateful to the Commission of Inquiry for doing its work,” he noted.
The President described the disturbances at the Camp Street penitentiary as “the worst prison riot” in the history of the country and brushed aside the criticisms the Inquiry has received.
“I was a little startled by the criticisms of the Commission even before it got started, even before it took evidence… people were asking why a Commission [but] I wanted to find out what happened [and] how it happened,” the Head of State noted, adding that he does not want a recurrence of such an incident.
To this end, it was explained that reforms are needed to improve the conditions of the country’s prison system, as many of the nations penitentiaries were built in the nineteenth century, during the reign of Queen Victoria, a former monarch of British Guiana.
He further said that the Camp Street Prison will be assessed as it lies in the heart of Georgetown with many schools, residents and business places in the surrounding environs. The President noted that over the last three months, all of the meetings of the National Security Committee, of which he is Chairman, have included prison reform discussions on its agenda.
President Granger had ordered the inquiry into the events after inmates met with Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Public Security Minister Kemraj Ramjattan. This came after two days of rioting at the Camp Street penitentiary where 17 inmates died after a fire was reportedly started by inmates. The Capital A Block on March 3 was engulfed with many prisoners locked inside.