Guyana: President urges compassion and clemency

GUYANESE ought to be more compassionate and merciful, President David Granger said yesterday, as he emphasised the need to “transform our political culture from this dog-eat-dog mindset” that some people appear to have.

The President made this call minutes after swearing in the five members of the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy at the Ministry of the Presidency.

There needs to be compassionate and merciful relations, the President further emphasised as he underscored the importance of setting good examples for the younger generation.

Carl Hanoman, Justice Duke Pollard, Yvonne Harewood-Benn, Merle Mendonca and Justice James Patterson are the five members who took the oath to serve on the Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy.

The Council, which is statutorily appointed, provides guidance to the President on the implementation of capital punishment.

Under Article 188 1 (A) of the Constitution of Guyana, the President has the power to grant any person concerned in, or convicted of, any offence under the laws of Guyana, a pardon, either free or subject to lawful condition.

The President may also grant to any person a respite, either indefinite, or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for such an offence.

He may also substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on any person for such an offence, or remit the whole or part of any punishment imposed on any person for such an offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the State on account of such an offence.

Article 189 (1) of the Constitution makes provision for the establishment of an Advisory Council on the Prerogative of Mercy, which shall consist of the Attorney- General, who is to be chairman, along with not less than three and not more than five other persons who shall be appointed by the President and of whom one shall be a person who is a qualified medical practitioner.

Even as he applauded the five members who have stepped up to the challenge, President Granger emphasised the fact that he will be guided by the Council in accordance with the Constitution.

It was on this note that he dismissed the notion that he, as President, has been “impulsive.”

The dismissal was in obvious reference to mega-contractor and businessman, Brian “BK” Tiwarie’s accusation that the President acted on impulse when he rescinded his appointment as a ministerial adviser on Business.

In addition to being accused of making a rash decision in the case of “BK” Tiwarie, the President was severely criticised last December for pardoning 11 women, all mothers, who had been convicted for non-violent offences.

Setting the record straight, the President explained that only 11 women, who had been incarcerated for non-violent offences, had satisfied the criteria, noting, too, that his decision was guided and made after much research.

“So, there again you see, I am not an impulsive person. I did make a thorough check, and I acted on advice,” he said, adding:
“Everything I have done for the last 11 months have been in accordance with the Constitution.”
Despite the criticisms on the amount of female prisoners he has pardoned, the President said it was heartening to have received a Thank You card from one of the 11 mothers who were pardoned by him.


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