Vanuatu Approaches New Zealand To Fund Prison Upgrades

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$9.6 million needed to improve facilities

By Glenda Shing

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 12, 2014) – The Director General to the Ministry of Justice, Joe Ligo, joined his Minister, Alfred Carlot to confirm an amount of "just over Vt920 million [US$9.6 million]" negotiated to cover the cost of new prison facilities in Vanuatu.

These includes the proposed Correctional Service facility at Etas area on Efate, an upgrade of Stade Correctional Service facility to house women and the juvenile category, and will also see upgraded facilities on Santo and on Tanna.

They confirmed to have had talks with the High Commissioner of New Zealand to Vanuatu who agreed to assist Vanuatu by providing funds towards these Detention Centers.

Minister Carlot and DG Ligo also confirmed the ousted PM Moana Carcasses’ statement on the location of the site of the new Correctional Service facility in the area of Etas.

According to the Minister and DG Ligo, there had been delay to have the land at Etas approved, as there had been a land dispute over the area, however, the land issue has been resolved, and very shortly, the government is expected to lay a foundation stone on the proposed site so that works can kick off.

This week the Minister of Justice will be touring Santo, and one of his agendas is to meet with the Santo chiefs and leaders of the provincial government to tour the site for the upgraded correctional service facility. A complete facility should accommodate the high risks, the medium risks and the low risks.

The DG said also in their discussions and negotiations with the NZ High Commissioner, all the Detention Centers would be specially designed so that inmates will not in any way be able to escape from them.

The Minister of Justice wants to see works on the construction of the new correctional facility on Etas effective as soon as possible.

The negotiations with the High Commissioner to New Zealand to assist Vanuatu with its prison system took place prior to the latest escape of seven high-risked inmates who are now back at the "container city"at Independence Park.

Meanwhile, Ligo said the site at Rangorango which was previously identified for the new Correctional Service facility is still a state land, and would be used for other government purposes.

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