…ahead of Independence celebrationsPresident David Granger has extended pardon to yet another female prisoner in observance of the country’s 52nd Independence Anniversary.According to a statement from the Public Security Ministry, the presidential pardon was granted with powers under Article 188(2) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.This year’s lone beneficiary has been identified as 30-year-old Shremattie Singh, an inmate of the New Amsterdam Prison. She was convicted and served a portion of her sentence for a false pretence offence.The presidential pardon takes effective from today. Singh was found to be “fit and proper to receive such pardon,” the statement from the Public Security MinistryPardoned Prisoner Shremattie Singhsaid.“It is expected that this expression of compassion and humanity by His Excellency will result in this prisoner reuniting with her family and leading a good and useful life hereon,” the Public Security Ministry added.President Granger faced much criticism over these pardons when they were first done back in 2015, mere days after his assumption to office. He had pardoned over 50 criminals on two separate occasions in 2015 – 40 for Guyana’s 49th Independence Anniversary and 11 for that year’s Christmas holidays.However, no pardons were done during the country’s 50th Independence Anniversary last year, and President Granger had explained that this was as a result of the selected prisoners not fully meeting the criteria set out. The same obtained for the 2016 Christmas holidays.Meanwhile, last year, some 10 female prisoners were released – five during the 51st Independence Anniversary and another five for the Christmas holidays.The pardoned criminals programme is an initiative of the Guyanese Leader, and is intended to give young “petty” convicts a second chance at life. Initially, the criteria used to select the beneficiaries included prisoners who are facing short sentences; those who are incarcerated for petty, non-violent offences; and those between the ages of 18 and 24.However, this decision of pardoning criminals had caused uneasiness among Guyanese, especially business owners. Persons were also calling for the identities of these convicts to be made public, but it was explained that this would hinder the reintegration of these young people into society.