Court: Prisoners have right to balanced meals

A prisoner has the right to be provided food to maintain their wellbeing and be served a balanced meal from the five main food groups, the National Court has ruled.

The court found that detainees at Bomana are being provided the same food, day in, day out, consisting only of protein and staples.

It is a requirement under the section 123 of the Correctional Service Act, for prisoners and detainees at the facilities, to be fed food from the five food groups of staples, protein, fruit, vegetable and dairy. 

However what is typically served at Bomana, as provided in evidence before the Waigani National Court, is a black tea and navy biscuit for breakfast, rice and either tinned fish or meat for lunch and dinner.

Three prisoners, led by Dr. Theo Yasause, instigated a human rights case in 2015, against the Bomana Jail Commander, Haraha Keko and the Correctional service over the meals provided at the prison.

They filed the case alleging a breach of their human rights, by the prison management, providing meals that are not balanced in nutritious value.    

Today, the court ruled that the prisoners are and have been denied full protection of the law, as per section 37(1) of the Constitution.

Commander Keko and the Correctional service will now have till January 1, 2018 to come up with a schedule of balanced meals.

Human Rights judge, Justice David Cannings described what was fed to prisoners as a non-nutritious diet, and said Commander Keko must comply with the CS Act and provide meals from the five food groups.

The court was also mindful of funding issues that Commander Keko and the Correctional service will face at Bomana as a result of this case, but said they can apply to the court, under section 255 of the constitution, to request for adequate funding to be provided to them. 


File picture of the prisoners standing in line to cast their votes in June. 

Sally Pokiton