2013 A ‘Dark Year’ For PNG Correctional Services

admin's picture

2013 A ‘Dark Year’ For PNG Correctional Services Commissioner says ‘heads will roll’ in wake of breakouts

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 6, 2014) – The Papua New Guinea Correctional Services rates 2013 as its darkest year as far as security management of prisoners is concerned.

Correctional Services Commissioner Martin Balthasar said enough was enough.

He warned that "heads would roll, allowances suspended and sterner disciplinary action taken against those responsible for looking after prisoners in jails throughout the country."

The latest mass breakout was by 42 prisoners at Buiebi Prison in Mendi, Southern Highlands, on Saturday December 28.

It again raised serious questions about the prison authority’s capability to manage state prisons in the country.

Acting commissioner David Melange said 30 of the Buiebi prisoners had been on remand while 12 were convicts. He said four had been recaptured and admitted that Buiebi jail officers had no firearms to deal with such breakouts.

Criminals broke into the jail armoury in 2010 and stole all its guns before releasing all inmates.

A joint operation by police and prison wardens is under way to find the remaining 38 escapees.

The department acknowledged that funding and logistics continued to be a problem.

The State had spent K1.3 million [US$503,740] alone just to recapture Bomana’s three high profile prisoners – including William Kapris – who escaped last year.

Balthasar had earlier warned that prison officers in jails where mass breakouts occurred would risk losing their K180 [US$69.75] security allowances for up to 12 months.

Suspension from duty or expulsion are the other options.

Last year’s jail breakouts included:

Statistics from the service at the end of last year showed that more than 200 inmates escaped during the year, with more than 100 still on the run.

It is a record for a single year for the department.

Overall figures showed more than 20,000 prisoners broke out of jails between 1995 and 2013 – and most of whom are still running free and posing a threat to society.

The department spent more than K11 million [US$4.3 million] between 2012 and 2013 on improving jails.

But the CS says the amount is inadequate to maintain jails and prevent breakouts. "Shortage of manpower, firearms and logistics at State prisons, compounded with low morale, ineffectiveness by jail officers and corrupt deals between prison staff and detainees are other key contributing factors to mass jail breakouts," Balthasar said.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment