Fears Expressed Over Violence At New Caledonia Prison

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Inmates call for France to provide new jail sooner

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 9, 2012) – There are fears of more violence at a New Caledonia jail, after a French judge declared the prison unfit for human occupation.

The French state has been ordered to pay compensation to at least 30 prisoners for detaining them in inhumane conditions at the Camp Est prison, with reports of overcrowded and cockroach-infested cells.

The lawyer representing the prisoners, Laurent Aguila, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat at least 60 more inmates are now hoping to take up cases against the state.

"Maybe soon all the men in jail will want to go and fight against France, because now the conditions are inhuman," he said.

"The treatment is very bad, and in the last days they've put the fires in the jail, because they can't accept, and nobody can accept, what has happened.

"The minister for justice in France...she understands why the men are very, very angry against France."

Inmates have set fire to mattresses in recent days after it was revealed it will be seven years before a new jail is built.

Mr. Aguila says if France continues to face compensation claims, he hopes they will commit funds for a new jail sooner.

"Seven years? Imagine. It's not possible," he said.

"We hope that in some weeks the government will have an idea to do something better... now and tomorrow we need to do something to build a new jail - or they don't go to jail.

"If every month we go with 60 men from jail, and next month 60 again, maybe after they [see how much] they pay, they will do something."

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