President pardons 5 more female convicts
As part of Guyana’s 51st Independence anniversary, Head of State David Granger has exercised his presidential pardoning powers to release five female prisoners.The Ministry of the Presidency in a statement on Thursday said pursuant to powers under Article 121 of the Constitution of Guyana, more particularly Articles 188, 189 and 190, the Head of State has granted Presidential Prerogative of Mercy to five convicted females whom he considered “fit and proper” to receive such pardons.These presidential pardons are effective as from Friday, May 26, 2017, in observance of the 51st Independence anniversary of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The five prisoners, all from the New Amsterdam Prison, would have served a portion of their respective sentences for offences including larceny, fraud and assault causing bodily harm.The prisoners who are freed from today are: 22-year-old Jenny Henry; 56-year-old Neeta Shamlall; 35-year-old Margo Gordon; 32-year-old Cleva France and 44-year-old Nesha Rambaran.These five pardon beneficiaries were recommendations by the Director of Prisons and were also reviewed by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams.“It is expected that this expression of compassion and humanity by His Excellency will result in families being re-united, and the pardoned offenders leading good and useful lives hereon,” the Government missive stated.President Granger had faced much criticism over these pardons when it was first done back in 2015, mere days after his assumption to office. He had pardoned over 50 criminals on two separate occasions in 2015 – 40 for Guyana’s 49th Independence anniversary and 11 for that year’s Christmas holidays.However, no pardons were done during the country’s 50th Independence anniversary last year and President Granger had explained that this was as a result of the selected prisoners not being able to fully meet the criteria set out. The same obtained for the 2016 Christmas holidays as well.The pardoned criminals programme is an initiative of the Guyanese Leader to give young “petty” convicts a second chance at life. Initially, the criteria used to select the beneficiaries include prisoners who are facing short sentences; those who are incarcerated for petty, non-violent offences; and those between the ages of 18 and 24.Back in December, the Head of State had opined that the pardoning programme is successful, making mention of two instances where beneficiaries of the initiative had taken full advantage of the second chance given to them to turn their lives around.A female who was pardoned in December 2015 graduated from the ‘Sustainable Livelihood Entrepreneurial Livelihood’ (SLED) programme last year; while another pardon beneficiary is now a student at the New Opportunity Corps.The President had stated that he was heartened to see the positive impact of this programme, particularly as it relates to the young women and mothers who were given an early release from prisons.“I’m very happy from time to time to receive letters particularly from women who have been pardoned and who are grateful. They felt that the pardon has turned their lives around… So I think that the quality of mercy, the quality of compassion is an important quality for a Head of State to possess,” Granger had said.However, this decision of pardoning criminals had caused and continues to build uneasiness among Guyanese, especially business owners. Persons were also calling for the identities of these convicts to be made public, but it was explained that this would hinder the reintegration of these young people into society.