Former Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee is shocked at the pronouncements of the country’s Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, who boldly declared that he is out of ideas on how to improve security at the prisons and to protect citizens.
In fact, Mr Rohee believes that Mr Ramjattan should resign if he is out of ideas to address the country’s security.
“There is a lot of ideas in the world today… if he is incapable of finding ideas then the best thing for him to do is resign,” Rohee told the News Room in the corridors or Parliament Buildings on Thursday.
Mr Ramjattan incurred the wrath of social media on Wednesday following his comments, which came on the heels a prison riot at the Lusignan Prisons, East Coast Demerara.
Several persons took to social media and called for him to resign.
In expressing alarm at his successor’s comment, Mr Rohee said: “How could he make such a public statement as a Minster of Government?”
“He has publicly confessed, without going to church, because church is usually where you make confessions,” Mr Rohee, now an Opposition Parliamentarian, said.
He suggested that the Security Minister should engage in more consultations.
Mr Rohee, who served as Home Affairs Minister from 2006 to 2015, advised that Mr Ramjattan not only look to civil society organisations and the private sector but also at international experiences or a google search.
Mr Rohee believes it is time to “think outside the box.”
“There’s no way you can sit in your air-conditioned office believing that you have all the solutions. Prisons is a very complex issue, the security situation is a very complex one and therefore it requires open-mindedness. You cannot sit in a cocoon believing you have the answers,” the Opposition Member noted.
He alluded to the National Commission for Law and Order which functioned during his tenure and allowed for meetings with various stakeholders on security issues.
Following a prison riot in March 2016 and July 2017 which completely destroyed the Camp Street Prison, several rehabilitation and expansion projects have been ongoing at the prisons across Guyana.
However, the Public Security Minister has consistently claimed that there is not enough money to make major changes.
Mr Rohee placed the blame squarely at the feet of the Minister, noting that Ramjattan “must be able to sit and convince his cabinet colleagues that this situation is getting from bad to worse and unless I have the resources to implement the decisions from the 2016 CoI, it will get worst.”
A Commission of Inquiry was established in 2016 to investigate the circumstances surrounding the prison riot which left approximately 17 prisoners dead and one prison officer.
It was found that the riot was sparked by an overcrowded prison –one where inmates lived among roaches, centipedes, lice and rats and had to step on each other to use the washroom at nights.
The CoI report recommended the setting up of a High-Level Committee which will represent all of the agencies with responsibility to the prison system.