By Tracey Khan-Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Sixty convicts will be granted presidential pardon on Guyana’s 49th Independence anniversary by President David Granger on Tuesday, May 26.
The President told some members of the media during an interview at the Office of the President on Monday, May 25 that he intends to pardon convicts who are serving short sentences for minor or non-violent related offences annually during his time in office.
“I have specified that persons who have convicted for crimes of violence will not be eligible for consideration, the President said.
He explained that those who have been granted presidential pardons are between the ages of 18-24 and includes both male and female. Initially he had intended to grant pardons only to females, but there are not enough to meet his criteria.
“I believe that young people should be in school not in jail and I have asked that emphasis be placed on young persons and for petty nonviolent offences and sentences of short duration. Some men are in jail for stealing cellphones, go your way and sin no more…Most of them are young, most of them are minor misdemeanors or offences, which are non-violent and I do hope that we will be able to integrate them by ensuring that they get on training programmes and they can start living the good lives, the longer they stay in prison the more difficult it would be to rehabilitate them.”
“I hope they get back in school, get to work and get on with their lives, they don’t belong in jail, and they belong in school, at home with their families and just be happy.”
When the President was asked to comment on the last deed that was undertaken by former President Donald Ramotar to grant a presidential pardon to a child killer while he was in office, he noted that, “there is nothing in the constitution that prevents him but there should be something in his conscious which should have told him that this is not the way to go.”
The child killer is Ravindra Deo who was serving a life imprisonment sentence for killing 8 – year-old Vishnu Bhim of Annandale East Coast Demerara in 1994. Prior to this sentence he was given the death penalty, which was later commuted to a life sentence.
Bhim was the only child of his parents, who have since migrated to the United States. The parents, Heeralall and Chaimwatie Bhim are reportedly in a state of shock and disbelief over Ramotar’s decision.