MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 17) - The human rights group Amnesty International has warned that condition of many prisons in the Pacific region is nearing crisis point.

The London-based organization says prisons across the Pacific face a lack of resources and ageing infrastructure, and some prisoners are being held in inhumane conditions.

This comes after an Australian lawyer representing Solomon Islands' militant leader Jimmy "Rasta" Lusibaea claimed his client was being held in solitary confinement and poor conditions in Honiara's Rove prison.

Amnesty's Heinz Schurmann-Zeggel says Pacific governments must meet international standards in caring for prisoners.

"When prisoners die, as has happened in Papua New Guinea apparently as a result of prison conditions, somebody must be accountable for this," he said. "Governments are ultimately responsible. The situation since independence for many of these countries has deteriorated to such a state that I guess we can almost call it a prison crisis in the South Pacific."

December 17, 2003

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