17 Jan

Commissioner installed to head inquiry

first_imgDeadly Drop-in Centre fireFormer Guyana Defence Force officer, Colonel Windee Algernon, was on Friday sworn in at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Magistrate Fabayo Azore as the sole Commissioner who will determine the cause and conditions that led to the death of the two boys while in the State’s custody at the child care, Drop-In Centre, on Hadfield Street, Georgetown.Former GDF officer, Colonel Windee AlgernonFollowing the tragic deaths, President David Granger has ordered a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the incident.Colonel Algernon, who was appointed as Commissioner on Thursday, was on Friday morning installed in the presence of Minister of State Joseph Harmon.The Commissioner was expected to commence work from as early as the day of installation.Following the brief ceremony, Algernon expressed her elation to have been selected by President David Granger to serve in that capacity.Minister Harmon noted that Algernon will be expected to make comprehensive recommendations to ensure the safety of children at the Hadfield Street location.Harmon pointed out, “His Excellency has asked that a preliminary report be presented to him by July 22 and that the final report should be in by August 15, if the Commissioner finds that she needs additional time, his Excellency might be inclined to give that extension.”Algernon is expected to determine the severity of the injuries the children sustained at the Drop-In Centre and the conditions they were exposed to.According to Harmon, “anytime a life in Guyana is lost, it is something that will have to be inquired into… that we place a very high premium on the life of every Guyanese and therefore as the Government and the State, we will have to demonstrate that in a very tangible way.”The Commissioner has also been tasked with establishing whether the conduct of the staff at the Drop-In Centre was in compliance with the required obligations of the state and standard operating procedures.According to Harmon, the State would await the report of the inquiry to decide on compensation for the parents of two-year-old Joshua George and his brother, six-year-old Antonio George who were killed on Friday, July 8 where fire ravaged the Drop-In Centre.“The family has been contacted by the Ministry of Social Protection and they have been given some level of comfort. As far as compensation is concerned, we await the findings of the Commission,” he noted.According to reports, just after midnight on Friday last, the two young brothers perished in a fire.It was reported that the elder brother Antonio was asleep in the dormitory when the fire started and as the younger brother Joshua was being taken out of the building by caregivers, he realised his brother was not with him.The two-year-old managed to release himself from the grip of the caregiver and ran back into the burning building. The two brothers were trapped in the building and their charred remains were subsequently recovered.Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) Ann Greene disclosed that the two brothers along with three other siblings were taken into the care of the CCPA two days before the incident, following an investigation into allegations that they were neglected and abused.Greene further stated that the Social Protection Ministry would take full responsibility for the tragic incident and bear the full cost of the funerals for the young children.Nevertheless, civil society activists joined with the dead children’s parents on Thursday as they picketed the CCPA office, calling for answers over the deaths and the state of the building. (Rennella Bourne)last_img read more