Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Camp Street Prison Georgetown Commission of Inquiry

Toronto-based Human and Civil Rights Lawyer Selwyn Pieters has been granted standing to provide legal representation to the Guyana Prison Service, Guyana Police Force and Guyana Fire Service in the Commission of Inquiry constituted for the purpose: “to enquire into all the circumstances surrounding the death of  seventeen (17) Prisoners namely from the Camp Street Prison, Georgetown on the morning of Thursday 3rd of March,2016 to report the findings and conclusions to the Minister of Public Security and to make recommendations on any action that should be taken to avoid any recurrence”

“The government has the prerogative to choose who its legal counsel are and who it repose confidence in to represent the interest of the state and state bodies. Certainly the loss of 17 lives are quite tragic. Certainly we want to get to the truth of what occurred. Certainly we want tangible and meaningful recommendations to improve the prison system and to make it much better to ensure there is no further loss of lives so that prisoners are while in state custody can be treated in an humane manner, can be safe , while the public is protected and secured” says Selwyn Pieters

Video Recording of the Testimony of Witnesses

 The Terms of Reference

(1)             The Inquiry will investigate, examine and report on:

·         Examine the causes, circumstances and conditions that led to the disturbances on the morning of the 3rd of March, 2016 that resulted in the death of 17 Prisoners on the morning of the 3rdof March, 2016 and any other subsequent disturbances at the Camp Street Prisons, Georgetown.

·         Inquire into the nature of all injuries sustained by the Prisoners during the disturbances on the morning of the 3rdof March, 2016 and any other subsequent disturbances.

·         Determine whether the conduct of the staff of the Guyana Prisons Service who were on duty on the morning of the 3rd of March, 2016 and thereafter was in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures of the Guyana Prisons Service.

Determine whether the deaths of the 20 prisoners was as a result of the negligence, abandonment  of duty ,disregard of instructions, inaction of the Prison Officers who were on duty on the night of the 2nd of March,2016 and the morning of the 3rd of March,2016.

(2)             Recommendations

The Commission shall determine comprehensive and plausible recommendations to ensure the safety of the prisons.

(i)                                      Examine and make findings and recommendations to improve the physical infrastructure of the prison;

(ii)                         The existing security arrangements in respect of the custody, management and control of prisoners.

(iii)                       The appropriate treatment of prisoners in compliance with legal and other requirements.

(iv)                       To prevent a recurrence of any such disturbances.

(3)              Rules of Procedure

(i)                            The Inquiry must consider the views of stakeholders including:
·        Staff of the Prisons and their Unions;

·        Members  of the Judiciary;

·        Prisoners accommodated within the Camp Street Prisons

·        Staff of the Ministry  of Health and the Ministry of Social Protection and  Human Services;

·        Any other stakeholders the Inquiry deems appropriate.

(ii)                         This commission shall render its report, findings and recommendations to the Minister of Public Security no later than the 31st of March, 2016.
(iii)                       This Inquiry shall be conducted continually at the (Venue) and in such other places as the Honourable Chairman may determine.
(iv)                       The Inquiry shall be held in public, with reservation nevertheless to the Commissioners to exclude any persons/persons if they deem fit for the due conduct of the Inquiry, the preservation of Order or for any other reason.
(v)                         The Commission shall commence work on the … of March,2016 and the said Chairman shall take appropriate steps to ensure that the Commission complete its work and submit its report within the aforesaid time.
(vi)                       The Chairman and one other Commissioner shall constitute a quorum.
(vii)                    Subject to the above, this Commission shall establish and regulate its own procedures for the conduct of the Inquiry and shall be governed by the aforesaid provisions of the Constitution of Guyana, the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Chapter 19:03, the High Court Act, Chapter 3:01and any other Laws enabling.

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