Final report for submission to President today

Prison riot CoI

The report on the findings of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deadly March 3, 2016 Camp Street Prison riot is expected to be submitted to President David Granger today May 31, 2016.

Camp Street Prison where the riot unfolded
Camp Street Prison where the riot unfolded
President David Granger
President David Granger

Guyana Times was informed last Wednesday that the Commission did not request an extension beyond May 31 and as such, the report will be submitted. This expected submission comes after two months of lengthy, at oftentimes emotional testimonies from witnesses and heated cross examinations by attorneys which concluded on May 9.

The CoI began on March 8 and was expected to conclude on March 28; however, the Commission applied for a two-month extension which was granted. On April 20, the Guyana Bar Association withdrew, citing time constraints in cross examination of witnesses.

It was after two days of rioting at the Camp Street penitentiary that 17 inmates died after fire engulfed the Capital A Block on March 3 with scores of prisoners trapped.

The fires were reportedly set by protesting prisoners.

President Granger who serves as Chairman of the National Security Committee then ordered an inquiry into the fire after inmates met with Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Public Security Minister, Kemraj Ramjattan.

At that meeting, the inmates and ministers reached a “gentleman’s agreement” where some of the concerns of the prisoners were addressed.

These negotiations were however criticized by some sections of society.

Outlined in the terms of reference, which covered the period March 2 to 4, the CoI aimed to enquire into all the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the prisoners on the morning of March 3, 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 a recurrence.

When the witness statements had concluded, Commission Counsel Excellence Dazzel noted that witness’ testimonies along with many other materials which the Commission had in its possession would have been used to compile the report.

The Commission was able to secure the testimonies of inmates, an ex-inmate, fire officials, Police officials, Prison officials, a former prison official, a Pathologist, the Chief Medical Officer, the Chief Probation Officer, Chairman of the Parole Board and the Chancellor of the Judiciary.

“The Commission has before it several reports and other materials which it will be utilising in conjunction with the previously mentioned testimonies, to formulate its report,” Dazzel explained to the media.

Retired Justice James Patterson served as Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry while Dale Erskine and Merle Mendonca served as Commissioners.