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By Elizabeth Vuvu

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 7) - Food is running out at the Manus police cells, which is overcrowded and described as very unhygienic.

The cells are overcrowded with more than 40 inmates, most of whom are prisoners convicted in last November’s National Court circuit but have not been transferred to the Kerevat jail in East New Britain as ordered by the court.

Since the closure of the Manus jail last year, prisoners that are sentenced and convicted by the National Court in Manus are transferred to Kerevat.

Provincial police commander Senior Inspector Alex N’drasal told The National yesterday that the situation had been prolonged, and were frustrating police, who now have to deal with both remandees and convicted prisoners.

N’drasal said that only six dedicated Correctional Service officers were helping police officers while the rest were doing their own things while still being on the payroll.

"We have been told by the Correctional Service hierarchy, who is responsible for the transfer of the prisoners, that there were no funds available and accounts were closed," he said.

N’drasal said the police cells, which had a capacity for 12 people at any one time, were overcrowded with more than 40 inmates and most convicted prisoners were being kept at the exercise yard. He said that a few remandees were also put on probation bail by the National Court and reported weekly to the courthouse.

"We are running short of food ration to feed the prisoners as the money that was given by CS headquarters is quickly running out and soon there will be no food to feed them unless their transfer is fast tracked," he said.

N’drasal said that it was also unhygienic to keep prisoners in confined cells that had limited space.

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