Parliament resumes today

first_img…Opposition motion seeks answers about prison fire, jailbreakAs Parliament resumes today, the first item on the order paper for private members’ business is a motion to deal with several critical concerns regarding the 2017 Georgetown Prison fire and jailbreak.The motion was submitted by Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira on behalf of Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Bishop Juan Edghill and she urged Government to take collective responsibility for the tragedy.The motion stated that July 9, 2017 will go down in the history of Guyana as the day when the worst prison fire and jailbreak took place, destroying over 80 per cent of the Georgetown Prison.This incident also led to the escape of eight prisoners and the death of a prison officer.According to the Opposition motion, the lack of information in the early hours after the jailbreak caused great anxiety and uncertainty for the general public and the families of the prisoners.While extending condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, the Opposition noted that the public remains in the dark after the July 9 incident as to what led to the jailbreak and fire.Government is still to explain how it managed this situation as it unfolded and its aftermath.“…the public was informed that many of their questions would be answered in the course of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to be appointed by the President,” it also recalled.And although Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had said that there would be no CoI until the escapees were all captured, the Opposition thinks that several important questions will remain unanswered for an indefinite time.Edghill’s motion said “…That the National Assembly calls on the Government to make full disclosure of all aspects of the tragedy at the Georgetown Prison on July 9, 2017, and to declare what actions have been and are being taken to reduce the opportunities for such situations from reoccurring.”The motion has also requested Government to make full disclosure with regard to the circumstances surrounding the most recent escape of prisoners on July 24, 2017.“That the National Assembly lends its support to the Disciplined Services in its efforts to ensure public safety and the protection of our citizens and the recapture of all the escapees,” it added.Edghill’s suspensionEdghill, an elected member of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), was recently advised that he would not be able to attend today’s sitting due to a mix-up.The MP was suspended from the National Assembly during last year’s sitting by the Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland, who had accused the MP of being out of order after he sought more time to scrutinise the Budget estimates.This was followed by the Party being gagged from questions on the Budget estimates before it was passed. By such measures, the Party noted that it was prevented from scrutinising six Ministries.The Opposition was recently informed that Edghill’s suspension was not over and explained that it was a mistake made by the Parliament Office in calculating when the suspension commenced.The Government side of the House on December 12, 2017 had voted in favour of a motion moved by its Chief Whip, Amna Ally suspending Edghill from four sittings.But the Opposition was not pleased with this news. It said, “If Minister (Amna) Ally’s motion did not include the date of the conclusion of the suspension, one may be tempted to understand the need for the Speaker’s intervention to interpret the motion as to when the suspension began and ended.”The PPP/C further argued that the legacy of the 11th Parliament was one of consistent undermining of the Standing Orders and interference by the Executive in the role and functions of the National Assembly.Edghill told this newspaper on Sunday that he was “made of steel” and did not feel sanctioned in any way by the Government’s move to have him suspended from the National Assembly.Edghill said that while he believed in following established rules and parliamentary principles, standing up for what was just and right would always take precedence in his book.last_img

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