Deadly 2018 piracy attack: COI to focus on role of all State agencies in security of fishermen

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More than a year after 20 fishermen were savagely beaten, chopped, burnt and then dumped overboard off the coast of Suriname, President David Granger has launched a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the deadly piracy attack.

Dr Rishee Shri Thakur was Tuesday sworn in as the Commissioner of the COI by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court.

Dr Thakur is tasked with investigating, determining and make findings of fact on all matters relating to the piracy attack which occurred on or about April 27, 2018; determine the number and the identities of those killed, determine the identities and motives of the perpetrators with a view of ensuring that those responsible are held accountable.

Commissioner of the COI Dr Rishee Shri Thakur (center) with Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and former Magistrate Geeta Chandan-Edmond after the swearing in [News Room photo]
One of the main Terms of Reference (TORs) of the COI includes determining the role of state agencies of Guyana in the security of the fishermen in the area.

Other TORs include:

  • Recommend actions to be taken against all persons and/or organisations that are deemed responsible for the deaths of those persons based on the determination of the above
  • Report on a plan of action to guide initiatives to be undertaken, both at sea and onshore, to prevent and counter-piracy and related activities, by addressing the root causes of this phenomenon.

Four fishing vessels were attacked during the time with some 20 crew members onboard. Of that number, four persons miraculously survived the attack, three bodies were recovered while the remains of the others were never found.

The COI Commissioner has to commence work immediately and the public hearings will be held at the Training Centre of the Skeldon Estate East Berbice-Corentyne Region since most of the victims are from the Berbice region.

All findings have to be submitted to President Granger on or before September 2, 2019.

The Commissioner has the power of the High Court to summon witnesses.

In June 2018, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan provided a one-off compensation of $100,000 to some of the immediate family members of the victims.

Murder charges were subsequently laid against the suspects who hail from Region six.

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