Social activist and former treason accused, Mark Benschop, on Monday morning staged a one man protest outside the Public Service Department, where the Prison Unrest Commission of Inquiry was wrapping up its public hearings.
Benschop’s protest is in response to the Commission indicating to him that his testimony would have been taken in-camera, away from the media and members of the public.
He objected to the Commission’s position and refused to offer any testimony last Friday. He said he could not understand why the Commission at a public hearing would want his testimony to be taken in private, when he made no such request.
Now, Mr. Benschop believes that the entire Commission of Inquiry hearing may have been nothing more than a farce and a waste of taxpayer’s money. He said having spent five years in the Camp Street jail, he could have provided the Commission with information that would have been useful to the inquiry.
During former President Bharrat Jagdeo’s term in office, Benschop was accused of treason and remained an inmate at the Camp Street Jail for five years although never being found guilty.
He was in prison from July 2002 to August 2007.
Mr. Benschop who submitted a statement to the current Commission of Inquiry said he had intended to speak about his years in the prison, the knowledge he has of former Director Dale Erskine, who is also a Commissioner and whether his conduct was professional or not.
“I was going to talk about the time we had a riot in 2006, prison conditions, officers treatment. These are the things I wanted to talk about. I wasn’t going to lash out or be personal but to tell the truth about my five years in there,” he added.
He said he was angered that the Chairman was looking to pick and choose who should testify in public or not, particularly when the testimonies of prisoners, former prisoners and state officials were all taken in pubic.
The Commission is wrapping up its work today and is expected to submit a full report to the President by the end of this month.