Waipo clarifies prisoner leave of absence

Not allowing the prison inmates their leave of absence is violation of their rights under the Human Rights Act.

The prisoners’ Leave of Absence (LOA) is guarded by the provisions of Section 101 of the Correctional Service Act which allows an inmate to take leave from the institution for any one particular reason.

This means taking a LOA for any particular needs as and when they have them, especially for medical reasons.

Correctional Service Commissioner, Michael Waipo, made this clarification in response to a media report today about convicted prisoners being seen around walking freely in the city.

 “Obviously, for an inmate to leave the institution, they must first of all apply for LOA. This goes through the process where the cases are considered”.

“The provision allows us to provide for them to take leave from the institution to attend to their needs like going to the hospital, to pick up medication or attending to family requests, they all come in under this arrangement.”

“The important thing is that we are looking after human beings and under the law and various conventions that are available, human rights issues come into play.”

Waipo said there have been some cases where the institution has had to answer before the Court about human rights issues and duty of care, especially when dealing with a sick inmate who has to go to the hospital, the institution must accord them the opportunity to go the hospital and be attended to.

“Because if we do not then, this can come up later against us by way of human rights proceedings.”

He adds also that when an inmate is given the LOA, the inmate is appointed an escort officer for supervision and under the circumstance and arrangement where they are hospitalized, a correctional officer is appointed to supervise them right through their stay.

“Really, its legislation and practice that must come into play together and the matter of duty of care is our business to also look after them by granting them the leave to be attended to where necessary.”

Waipo said if not granted, then it becomes a human rights issue and we risk the institution being taken to Court for a breach of their rights under the Human Rights Act.

“While their liberty has been taken away from them, they are still entitled to certain basic rights where we must provide them that opportunity to access those services.”

The period of an inmate’s stay in the hospital, depends on the severity of the inmates case by the doctors and still under the protection of the CS escort officer.

Waipo also says that this right is accorded to every prisoner irrespective of their status, explaining that the type of security detail will change according the classification of prisoner on LOA.

Annette Kora