Activists in Guyana staged a demonstration outside the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions urging the release of a fifteen-year-old girl charged with murder after a horrific fire at the Mahdia Secondary School girls’ dormitory on May 21 killed 20 students.
Investigators allege the teenager set the blaze after school officials confiscated her mobile telephone.
A Guyana Magistrate remanded her in custody at a juvenile facility when the youngster appeared in court, which adjourned the matter to July 4.
Women’s activist Wintress Whyte believes the authorities should release the young accused and give her counselling.
“Let us examine the facts and see who is to be charged here. Who is guilty of this crime?” Whyte told local reporters.
Firefighters said they entered the burning school dormitory by breaking holes in the wall after encountering ‘heavily barred’ windows and locked doors.
“How could we say education is free when we locking up children to learn?” Whyte declared.
She was part of a demonstration involving other activists and concerned citizens calling for adults to be held accountable for the Mahdia fire.
Activist Vidyaratha Kisoon told reporters that the call for the release of the teenage accused was in no way an attempt to deny justice for the families of the fire victims.
Kisoon explained that in cases of children in conflict with the law, the 2023 approach is to provide counselling and rehabilitation and investigate what is happening in the community.
On Monday, there was also a demonstration outside the Office of the President in Georgetown, the capital.
The small group called for the Amerindian Affairs, Education, Local Government, and Regional Development and Home Affairs ministers to resign.