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Jun 01, 2015 News
What is supposed to be an arm of the Criminal Justice System in Guyana is now being described as “The Devil’s playground”.
This description is being touted by both inmates and wardens alike, who have painted a gloomy picture of what is being passed off as a penal institution that is supposed to reform those who transgress the law.
Within recent times several persons have been coming forward with tales of mistreatment and other violations of basic human rights with the hope that the new Minister of National Security Khemraj Ramjattan will reverse the trend.
One officer pointed out that while some favour the current system because some people are like the “dog that fetches the stick every time they throw it”, “others are being victimized for asking questions.”
The latest reports are coming from the Mazaruni Prisons where there are claims of ill treatment and calls that “it is time for a board of investigation to deal with pending issues of unfair treatment of prisoners”.
The accusations are numerous. There are reports of the torturing of prisoners, of female officers being forced to offer sex to gain promotions and false information being placed in the personal files of officers.
“Under the system, is only the senior members can enjoy the benefits…Officers are forced at some level to take matters into their own hands because of the level of victimization…,” said one former officer, who resigned rather than face further victimisation.
He referred to the change in the leadership of the prison service, which he said has seen the organisation taking on a different approach, much to the frustration of wardens.
“The rules and everything became just like the Guyana Police Force and that created a hostile environment,” the officer added.
“The Director never visit the prison, no regular checks are made to officers, nothing at all… you cannot speak out at all of some incidents you may witness,” he noted.
There are also some instances whereas persons who do not have the qualifications to run certain Divisions are given the position because of family ties and various other reasons.
Back in 2012, inmates of the Mazaruni Prison cultivated crops as not only a means of “recreation” but in an effort to eat what they produce.
However their hard work passes for nothing as the grown crops are being reportedly sold in Bartica for pocket money for the administrators of the prison.
This was according to 20-year-old Ronald Charles, an inmate who explained that making complaints are a waste of time, since all the persons in authority are related to each other.
In another instance an inmate related that “Split peas, black eye, channa, and all kinds of other peas are all we getting with rice”, no greens.
He also lamented that the cooks would give the prisoners milk mixed with flour to drink.
The young man who was incarcerated in December of 2014 for a simple larceny charge, is calling on the authorities to look into the situation as soon as possible, since he has been abstaining from food for a few days now, as the peas gives him “burn stomach”.
“Even a prisoner like me doesn’t deserve this; we are people too. And I am only in here because of circumstances”.
A visitor to the facility, Sabrina, spoke of the harassment meted out to persons who visit relatives at the prison, “forcing them to reduce the number of visits, since standing in the rain outside for hours and the disrespect shown to them are enough to frustrate anyone into staying away from the ‘hell hole’.”
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