All escapees are accomplices to the murder of prison officer Williams
Stabroek News
March 9, 2002

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Dear Editor,

The prison escapees are all accomplices to the murder of Prison Officer Troy Williams and the felonious wounding of prison officer Roxanne Winfield who is still fighting for her life.

There are many prisoners on death row awaiting execution who have exhausted all available appeal proceedings and petitions for clemency, but because of the Guyana Human Rights Association's (GHRA) stand against executions the authorities have decided to do nothing but waste the taxpayers money to keep them alive.

I remember sometime ago the president had signed the execution warrants against 2 death row inmates, but they were subsequently withdrawn and nothing further has been done in this matter.

I also remember that the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) after reviewing the case of Abdool Saleem Yasseen and Noel Thomas had ruled that the 2 murderers must be freed and had the gall to give the Guyana government 90 days to inform the committee of the measures taken. I argued that this decision is not binding on Guyana. Guyana is a sovereign state and should resist any pressure by any foreign association on how to deal with its citizens.

When Ronald Reagan was president of the United States of America (USA) and the World Court in The Hague ruled against the US in a case involving another country he refused to accept the court's ruling and said that he was not bound by it. He never did accept the ruling and congress agreed with him.

Who would deny that the notorious escapees are all conspirators to the murder of Officer Williams and the felonious wounding of Officer Winfield and are good candidates for the hangman's noose.

The Minister of Home Affairs has established another commission to look into the jailbreak. Forgive me if I suggest that the next commission ought to examine the usefulness of commissions. When a government, state or city doesn't know what to do about a serious matter, or does not want to do anything a commission is appointed in order to give the impression that they are really coming to grips with the problems.

In 1999 when Maxwell Melville called `Lunkie', Keith Thomas called `Egg Head', Henry Valenzuela and Justin Martin, who scaled the wall in John street and escaped, the Minister of Home Affairs Mr Gajraj established a commission comprising Mr Peter Willems, Brigadier Michael Atherly, Derek Thompson, former permanent secretary in the Home Affairs Ministry, Asst. Commissioner of Police, E. Wills, Social Worker I. Goddard and former prison officer I. Nelson-Bynoe, which made the following concrete recommendations which were not implemented:

"a `no-go' service sanction zone to be erected and clearly demarcated; 2 guard towers to be installed in the northeastern and southeastern corners of the prison to be equipped with skilled marksmen, not from the prison service; prison officers to be trained and retrained in the systems that were standard in high-security prisons; the Guyana Defence Force to be given the legal mandate to work with the police and the Prison Service to ensure that the perimeter fence guard towers were manned efficiently."

Further, that the senior officer in the prison system be sanctioned and the officer in charge be dismissed together with two other officers; one person was dismissed and the officer in charge transferred. The commission found clear culpability and collusion by prison officers; they also found that the alarm on the jailbreak was sounded long after the prisoners escaped; security forces were directed to Parika while the escapees made good their escape on the East Coast.

What bothers me, however, is that the authorities claim that the firearm used by the escapees was probably thrown over the fence. In 1999, I drew to the attention of the authorities that their regulations were being openly flouted, e.g: parcels being thrown over the prison walls into the compound by outsiders long after the prisoners were locked in their cells for the day and in the presence of warders and members of the police force who patrol the street, yet nothing has been done. It was also suggested by the commission that a catch net to trap objects thrown over the prison wall be erected, this was not done.

Finally, I wish to commend the Barbados Prison Service who thoughtfully sent condolences on behalf of the service and also made a donation to the mother of Troy Williams. I am yet to learn of any local organisation, association, group, politician or political party doing likewise. All I hear is talk, talk and more talk. We all know that `talk' is cheap.

Yours faithfully,

Bertwald Bradshaw