Raid cleans up troubled Guyana prison

Some of the contraband confiscated from Georgetown Prison in Guyana in a sweep of cells.
Some of the contraband confiscated from Georgetown Prison in Guyana in a sweep of cells.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – A joint forces operation swoop through Georgetown Prison last weekend confiscated contraband items such as cigarette lighters, improvised weapons and marijuana.

This follows what was described by Toronto lawyer Selwyn Pieters as a “proliferation of contraband within the jail (that) raises serious public safety concerns” during the hearings into the recent Georgetown prison riot, which resulted in the death of 17 inmates.

Selwyn Pieters
Selwyn Pieters

Pieters, who is representing the prison and police services at the inquiry in Guyana, was on location to provide legal advice during the operation. He told The Camera that “the operation was relatively successful in terms of the extraction of the inmates identified as ‘ringleaders’ or for reasons of the institutional security that needed to be transferred to other prisons.”

He added there was some resistance and threats from two inmates but “those threats were neutralized very quickly and with minimal use of force.”

Pieters had told the inquiry that there were security risks inside the jail as inmates had been taking metal from the beds to make weapons.

“Hopefully the impact of this massive seizure and the transferral of the inmates on the operations of the prison would be that inmates that remain at the prison could be assured that they no longer require improvised weapons to protect themselves from the “ringleaders” or “bullies” that posed a threat to them and the officers at the Camp Street Prison,” said Pieters.

He added that the prison had to be “sanitized of illegal weapons” that are in the possession of inmates.

“My role was to ensure all officers understood Section 13 of the Prison Act and the objective conditions that must be evident for the Standard Operating Procedures and rules of engagement to come into play. Legal counsel’s role was also to emphasize that the law and Standard Operating Procedures must be followed to deal with the threat at hand,” said Pieters who is also trained to practice law in Guyana.

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