Women, juvenile lock up must be separate

Women and juveniles accused of committing a crime must be locked up in separate confinement cells.

Unfortunately in Papua New Guinea, very few police facilities have separate lock ups for females and juveniles.

Human rights judge, Justice David Cannings, says it is a very bad situation for females and juveniles who are particularly vulnerable if they are in custody.

“Not so much when they go to a jail, all the prisons have separate facilities, but police lockups, in the smaller centres, even in my town, Madang, we don’t have separate facilities.”

He is now encouraging these groups of people to go to the National Court and file a human rights enforcement application if they have been subjects of mistreatment or assault while in police custody, either by police officers or fellow inmates.

With rights come responsibilities; respecting others’ rights.

In recent times, there have also been jail breakouts by prisoners and particularly remandees awaiting trial in court.

“We have so many escapes, that’s a huge problem in Papua New Guinea,” Justice Cannings said.

He highlighted the reasons of those escapes, from his point of view: “Their reasons for escape come from frustration, prisoners who think their parole applications are not being met or they’ve heard things about their relatives, things that are happening in the village but are not getting any information out.

“We got all sorts of problems.”

Prisoners and inmates also not getting visits from their families, is another reason.

“They get frustrated, they take off. They feel neglected. You go there, you talk to them, about their rights, they will understand.

“Every single person has a basic sense of understanding, if you ignore them, they escape.

“You will see that jails that are visited regularity by a judge in particular, you look at the figures and how many escapes there are,” he added. 

Sally Pokiton