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From page A1
He said officers had raised concerned about the
compromised security at the MSP before, but were
unaware prisoners actually had the ability to control
doors until Monday night, when they actually saw
it for the first time as the prisoners opened cell
doors during a riot situation.
Justice Minister Emmanuel George also said he
was unaware of the incident "as yet."
"Information will come to me I m sure," George
said in a brief telephone interview yesterday evening.
Several calls to Prisons Commissioner Martin
Martinez all went unanswered and he did not return
In an interview on Monday, Martinez pleaded
with his officers to be patient while their concerns
were being addressed by the special prisons com-
mittee and warned that their continued action might
affect their safety.
"If the prisoners are not fed on time, they are
denied visits, or are in any way disadvantaged, it
would be to the tragedy of the officers because they
will feel the backlash," Martinez was quoted as say-
Prison sources also revealed yesterday that the
officers protest, which began at the Golden Grove
State Prison and at the Maximum Security Prison,
has now spread to the two other prisons---the Port-
of-Spain and Carrera Island State Prisons. They
claimed since the protest began last week, several
prisoners and prisons officers have been injured in
The T&T Guardian understands that in the latest
incident, one officer at the Maximum Security Prison
was hit on the head with a metal bar during an
altercation with a prisoner on Monday night. The
officer was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sci-
ences Complex in Mt Hope for treatment and
remained warded in stable condition up to late yes-
The officers protest has also caused delays at the
courts, with judges and magistrates having to adjourn
numerous trials and cases because prisoners are not
being taken to court. Other prisoners are complaining
of feeling ill because of delays in their meals.
A trial in the Port-of-Spain High Court had to
be adjourned yesterday after a prisoner complained
of feeling unwell from inhaling fumes from debris
burnt by fellow prisoners at the Maximum Security
Prison during their protest.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Special committee gets down to work...
for 19th NOVEMBER, 2013
An "action list" of initiatives to tackle
problems in the prisons is expected to be
ready for implementation by Friday, says
Prof Ramesh Deosaran, chairman of a
special committee appointed to investigate
and address issues involving prisons offi-
cers and prisoners.
That list, he added, would be made pub-
lic after an agreement has been reached
on specific issues, which included "press-
ing" the judiciary to set up a special
arrangement to deal with the backlog of
cases at the Remand Yard, Port-of-Spain.
Deosaran was addressing members of
the media yesterday after some three hours
of deliberations at the Office of the Prime
Minister with committee members, which
included Prisons Commissioner Martin
Martinez, Inspector of Prisons Daniel Khan,
National Security Minister Gary Griffith,
Justice Minister Emmanuel George, Police
Commissioner Stephen Williams, attorney
Wayne Sturge and general secretary of the
Prisons Officers Association (POA) Gerard
The committee was appointed by Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Mon-
day, after a series of incidents and protests
by prisoners at the Golden Grove Prison
The situation escalated with the murder
of off-duty prisons officer Andy Rogers
on November 6 at Malabar.
Among some of the issues discussed
yesterday were giving guns to certain pris-
ons officers and conditions at Remand
"The Remand Yard, from what I have
been hearing, has been a disaster and it s
the number one priority," Deosaran said.
"A particular feature of the Remand Yard
is that these prisoners are on remand, so
therefore they are not yet convicted. So
therefore, if you are on Remand Yard for
many years, it does raise the question of
an injustice before conviction."
He said overcrowding was a critical ele-
ment, as there were up to 11 inmates in
Saying each member had shared con-
cerns, Deosaran said Martinez also gave
several recommendations and some history
of what he and previous commissioners
had been facing.
"I think I am quite correct to say that
each member here is very disturbed that
these matters have been on the table for
such a very long time," he said.
"Many of the concerns and recommen-
dations were unfortunately left on the
"We intend to have our intensive set of
discussions and come to terms with the
issues presented by the prisoners and the
prisons officers themselves."
Saying part of the committee s job was
to remove scepticism and improve public
confidence, Deosaran said the committee
would take "all these historic issues into
consideration and move fairly and expe-
He said the committee would also look
at fresh legislative measures which were
also expected to come on stream soon.
Deosaran said George had already raised
a number of issues with Attorney General
Anand Ramlogan and POA president Cer-
ron Richards also expressed concern about
the lengthy time it took for court matters
"Everyone is committed to move quickly
on this matter...I hope I don t have the
opportunity or the cause to come back in
some months and tell you I am sorry things
did not work out...I hope I don t have the
occasion to," Deosaran said.
Asked if any immediate measures would
be implemented before Friday, Deosaran
said he was "quite sure" the Remand Yard
situation would be reviewed.
Action on prison woes
The injury to the head of a prisons officer which was inflicted by a prisoner during a riot
at the Maximum Security Prison, Arouca, on Monday night. The identity of the prisons
officer is being protected for his safety.
open cell doors
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