Jul 11, 2017 Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

The Minister of Public Security has told the nation that those convicted of non-violent crimes will be given early release. He informed us that over 500 hundred remand accused cannot meet bail. Did he know this before the Camp Street inferno? Yes he did. Did the Bar Association know about it? Yes it did. No wonder Mark Benschop has dismissed that worthless paper organization with utter contempt in a recent letter.
Did the President and his Cabinet know it? Yes they did. I knew about it and I have written umpteen times about certain types of magistrates and what they were doing on the bench. And I warned the nation about these magistrates. Let me move on, before I am accused of boasting.
The Indian Arrival Committee is now calling for speedy trials. As the days unfold, I am asking readers to start counting those who will jump on the bandwagon to denounce excessive bail for petty crimes and excessive jail for silly misdemeanours. It is a sad reflection of a dead country. This country had to wait until Guyana endured what no other country in the world has seen – the riotous burning down of the central prison – before it realized that poor, disadvantaged people were being savagely treated by the courts.
The talk among Guyanese is the expression of fear about where the escapees are. People are advising others to be careful and not to stay out late in the evenings. But here is the thing. Even if death row inmates did not plan the horror show on Sunday afternoon, who says petty criminals, frustrated at their mistreatment by magistrates, and with suicidal tendencies, would not have contemplated similar action?

What the judicial system is doing had to lead to chaos. You do not take parents’ children and lock them away for four years for two marijuana cigarettes. You do not put a father on $80,000 bail because he threw oil in his neighbour’s yard. You do not put two female security guards on $80,000 bail for a fistic encounter. Those people unable to meet high bail, go on remand, meet hardened criminals, and become contaminated. Or they become victims of prison riots and die. How could any President or Prime Minister or Home Affairs Minister watch at these judicial bestialities and stay silent?
A country does not jail an 18-year-old girl for six months for leaving her country illegally. As I write this column, many must be doing what she was jailed for doing – crossing the Corentyne into Suriname on a speedboat. Thousands must have made the Suriname entry since that teen was jailed four years ago. A country does not jail young men for three years for the mere possession of a smoking utensil. I know of six such cases.
Why haven’t our ruling politicians spoken up on these morbid manifestations of injustice? The PPP leaders are behaving as if they are different from the present incompetent government we have. Someone told me Leslie Ramsammy wrote on Facebook that he is praying for his country.
Where were his prayers when the teen was jailed for 6 months for illegally crossing over into Suriname by a Berbice magistrate when he was a Minister? It was under the government of which Leslie Ramsammy was a minister, when youths were being jailed for two grams of marijuana. It was under Leslie Ramsammy’s government that a father of five little children committed suicide after he was charged for holding a dance in Mahaicony and not declaring his profits to the GRA. That man has left five children who may grow up to be angry youths.
This columnist knows of billionaires who cheated the GRA of hundreds of millions under Khurshid Sattaur. If I reveal this information, I am sure to get myself and this paper in both legal and physical danger.
President Granger has established a neat separation between the personal and the political. In reacting to what Minister Bulkan wrote about the Chronicle, he said the Minister was offering his personal opinion and it wasn’t an attack on the Chronicle by a serving Cabinet member.
This is a moral position that may have some strength in it. After all, ministers are humans too, with personal viewpoints. But if a minister can proffer a remark in his/her personal capacity on what he/she sees as a professional mistake by the state, why can’t the President, the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers comment in their personal capacities on some of the bizarre, inhuman decisions that take place in the magistrate courts?