Former Chief Magistrate and prominent Attorney KA Juman-Yassin is of the view that the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the recent unrest at the Georgetown Prison, which resulted in the death of 17 inmates and several others injured, is an absolute waste of time and money, and has turned out to be a spectacle in the media.
In a lengthy Letter to the Editor on Wednesday, Juman-Yassin pointed out that the establishment of a new CoI was a huge mistake, noting that no new tangible recommendations will come out of it.
“The current Commission of Inquiry is a waste of time and money and that it was hurriedly set up in order to deflect from the Government, the horror of what took place and the perceived failure to maintain order at an institution where this is mandatory,” he stated.
Prisoners vs prison officials
According to the former Chief Magistrate, the truth of what transpired during the recent unrests will not come out of the evidence given in the Inquiry, since the major players in this incident are the prison officials and the prisoners, and each side will want to cast blame on the other. He further opined that the evidence taken during the probe should not be publicised as it currently is.
“The evidence from the prisoners should not be in public as they will not want to give full disclosure as at the end of the day they will have to return to the prison and be controlled by the same prison officers or system that had caused the problems. The prisoners will also not want to snitch on other prisoners as they will then place their lives in jeopardy when they return to the prison,” he stated, adding that the situation is the same with the prison officials.
“The prison officers will be reluctant to state publicly any fault of any of their superior officers, fellow officers or the system in place because this may affect their promotion or may cause them be to be transferred to other locations. Even if their evidence is taken in camera, they will at the back of their minds see Dale Erskine (a former Director of Prisons) as the man who would have had some of these officers under his command, and think that what they say would get back to them,” he outlined.
Juman-Yassin is of the view that the former Director of Prisons should not have been a member of the Commission, as it is perceived that it may be difficult for him to disassociate himself from the system and some of the prison personnel. (Guyana Times)