Guyana looking at alternatives to Pre-Trial Detention

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The Ministry of Public Security under the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP) has hired an international expert to look at alternatives to pre-trial detention.

During a briefing to subject Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan this week, Mr Peter Pursglove committed to the task, which will contribute to a reduction in prison overcrowding and prevention of further criminalization of youths.

It has long been a major concern that pre-trial detention adds to the criminalization of youths since, during this period, they are often housed with worse prisoners than themselves. Following a prison outbreak in March 2016, the years spent before a trial is completed and a person is convicted of a crime was also raised, since according to some prisoners, pre-trial detention sometimes exceed their sentence.

The consultant is expected to meet with key stakeholders and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of Guyana’s approach to the provision of alternatives to incarceration, along with opportunities for reform and development.

The study will review and make recommendations on issues such as sentencing policy; discretion available to Judges, Magistrates, Police and Prosecutors; capacity of probation and other systems of supervision of non-custodial sanctions including a possible collaboration with civil society organisations; restorative justice; and decriminalising certain acts.

It will also include juvenile holding facilities such as the Juvenile Detention Centre, Sophia which was recently plagued by a fire started by an inmate.

Mr. Pursglove is a Senior Counsel for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He is a graduate of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge; King’s College, University of London; Inns of Court School of Law; and Wolverhampton University. He is a barrister for 36 years with experience as an advocate and practitioner in three jurisdictions.

Further, he has advised Ministers of Justice, Attorney’s General and Prime Ministers at the political and policy levels in several Commonwealth Member States in Africa, the Caribbean and in the Pacific Region.

 

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