Guyana’s Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall has emphasised that the monies being doled out to those affected by the deadly Mahdia Secondary School dormitory fire is not compensation, but rather, “financial assistance”.
The AG made the distinction on his recently aired “Issues in the News” programme on the heels of criticism that the paltry sum is being offered as “compensation”, and is a slap in the face of the relatives of the 20 children who perished in the blaze.
“I keep seeing in the press that it is being reported that the government is paying compensation. The government is doing no such thing. The government made a promise and a commitment to offering whatever financial assistance the government can to the persons affected – the relatives, the families, the parents, the siblings – and the government is discharging that commitment,” the AG said.
Nandlall noted that “compensation” is a legal terminology which connotes that there is an acceptance of blame or culpability. None of those things have happened. In fact, the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to probe the events is yet to be established. Since no tribunal nor any other judicial measure has been implemented, Nandlall said that the word “compensation” ought not to be used, “cannot be used, and is improper to use in this context”.
The AG also made it clear that the relief given to the families will have to be accounted for since they are public funds.