Apr 07, 2016 News
Camp Street prisoner Roy Jacobs has revealed that Kaieteur News and Stabroek News are not allowed inside the Georgetown Prisons.
He made this disclosure on his return to the Commission of Inquiry, (COI) into the
March 3, 2016 incident, which resulted in the death of 17 prisoners. The men were burnt to death after a fire was started in ‘Capital A’ building of the Georgetown Prisons.
Another prisoner died of a heart attack that took the total deaths to 18.
Jacobs, who is currently serving an 81-year sentence for murder at the State Penitentiary told the Commission that this was a rule of the prison for as long as he can remember. He has been in jail for almost five years.
The prisoner recalled that one occasion a copy of the Kaieteur News was taken away from his “partner in crime.”
“When we went to court my partner in crime get a Kaieteur and when we went to the reception, they took it away,” he claimed. Jacobs said that he later learnt that only the Guyana Times and Chronicle Newspapers are allowed in the prisons.
He was at the time responding to questions posed by Attorney- at- law Christopher Ram. Ram, who is also President of the Guyana Bar Association (GBA) later, commented on the prisoner’s revelation about the newspapers, calling it a violation of fundamental human rights.
The lawyer asserted that while banning the newspaper is bad enough, to prohibit two of Guyana’s largest selling dailies and to allow the Guyana Chronicle and the Guyana Times into the prisons “defies logic.”
The attorney said that he hopes the Commission will take the issue into serious consideration.
Ram had also inquired from the prisoner about rules concerning the everyday treatment and safety procedures for inmates in cases of emergencies such as fire.
The prisoner revealed that he has not come across any such guidelines. He said too that there have been no fire drills at the prisons during his five years of incarceration.
In terms of treatment of prisoners, Jacobs said, there is an issue with the manner in which the officers interface with the inmates.
He said that prisoners often get problems with officers. “They (the officers) might get problem home and come and take it out at the prisons,” Jacobs opined.
“They always hollering at you,” he added. He noted that even in cases of a serious health problem, officers would ignore prisoners concerns.
Jacobs told the commission that there is also a problem with the accommodation for inmates; a mattress is often shared by two prisoners. He also expressed concerns of unhygienic condition at the facility.
“Them rats big more than…lemme see…them does stand up on their feet like people,” he added
Under cross examination by Attorney Selwyn Pieters, the prisoner maintained that he heard a shot fired during the March 3 riot at the prisons.
He also maintained that it was Deputy Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels, who gave the order to lock the doors with the prisoners inside of the burning building.
He told the commission that Samuels was on the ground at the time of the fire; he was armed with a gun. Jacobs said that the Deputy Director of prisons was always in confrontation with prisoners.
“Is not the first time Mr. Samuels always pointing gun at people. Me and Mr. Samuels even had confrontation,” the convict stated.
The COI continues today.
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