Correctional Institution needs help: Commissioner

The situation at the Buimo Correctional Institution in Lae, Morobe Province, is yet to be addressed.

About 17 detainees dashed for freedom between 10 and 10.30am during visiting hours on Sunday 19th January.

An officer and a convicted detainee lost their lives during the breakout when detainees climbed over the waiting area fence and ran for freedom. The officer was rushed to the ANGAU General Memorial Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Correctional Service Commissioner, Stephen Pokanis, said over the years, similar incidents have occurred whilst calls for help to the government have fallen on deaf ears.

“In 2018, police shot dead four prison inmates, wounding two others and nine escaped and in December 2017, 16 prisoners held a prison warden hostage before fleeing, where only four were recaptured.

“I am highlighting this because the story about Buimo is not new, with these escapes that are taking place, what we, the correctional service, have done is we have asked the government in the last 10 years to address situation. The situation has come to a position where it’s completely inadequate for officers from correctional services to continue to manage the prisoners,” stated Pokanis.

“In May 2017, prison wardens shot dead 17 inmates in a mass breakout at Buimo, recapturing three alive and 57 escaped. In February 2016, police shot and killed 11 of about 30 prisoners who attacked two prison wardens, wounding 17, and in June 2015, 55 prisoners escaped during a heavy rainfall where only nine were recaptured.”

Meantime, Pokanis said on January 21st, the CS internal investigation team was on ground to support officers at the institution and requested police for an independent investigation.

The commissioner has already briefed the families of the late officer that police and doctors will work together to conduct post mortem or autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Commissioner Pokanis further said CS is working with the department of planning and treasury in Lae district to speed up the work of constructing men’s dormitories for detainees as well as the barracks for officers.

They are now asking the government for a funding support of K5 million.

(Article by Jim John – third year UPNG Journalism student)

Jim John