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By Josua Tuwere

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 28, 2000 – Fiji Times/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Suva prison is unfit for human habitation, Fiji Islands cabinet ministers said yesterday, the Fiji Times reports.

"Shocking. Simply shocking. This place is not fit for human habitation," said Assistant Minister for Fijian Affairs Isireli Vuibau.

He was part of a cabinet subcommittee yesterday.

The parliamentarians, led by Attorney-General Anand Singh, visited the prison to assess plans to tear down the main cellblock built in 1912.

"The committee has also been appointed to look into the state of prison facilities," Singh said.

"We have prisons in Labasa, Lautoka, Ba and Lakeba and we should develop these as part of decentralizing the prison population.

"We are also looking at getting money to improve prison facilities by the middle of next year."

Some inmates whistled and called to the female members of the group and waved to the television cameras, trying to attract attention.

Others stood at attention when the Commissioner of Prisons, Aisea Taoka, walked in and asked them what they were doing.

The group was taken to the condemned main cellblock, which still holds a few prisoners. There were cracks in the wall, peeling paint in dark and damp conditions.

Some of the ministers chatted and shook hands with Viliame Tukana, a murder suspect from Lau at the Remand Center, while Woo Jin Chae, a Korean businessman also facing murder charges, peered curiously through the small hole in his cell door.

"After visiting the center, the poor conditions leaves a bad taste in my mouth,"' said Singh.

Home Affairs Minister Joji Uluinakauvadra said the sooner the place was demolished the better it would be for everyone.

"Decentralization is a feasible alternative. There is too much overcrowding, congestion along with understaffing in this place," he said.

Title -- 2683 JUSTICE: Fiji prison ‘unfit for humans’ Date -- 28 April 2000 Byline -- Josua Tuwere Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Fiji Times, 28/4/00 Copyright – FT Status – Unabridged

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