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New Correctional Facility For Women Opens In Lautoka

New Correctional Facility For Women Opens In Lautoka
December 02
12:25 2017

Fiji’s second corrections facility for women was opened in Lautoka yesterday. The $5 million project aims to provide the best care for the women who will be housed there while serving prison time.

In opening the facility yesterday, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said, the facility was just ensuring the human rights of the women of Fiji who were incarcerated were protected.

“This is the first time we’ve had a correctional facility built for women based outside of Suva. This essentially signifies a number of key issues in terms of government priorities and our overall commitment to human rights, to the protection of the very practical and tangible rights of people who are incarcerated through the criminal justice system,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“Since the Colonial times we’ve only had one women’s prison which is in Suva which has meant that any female that is being convicted of any crimes has always had to be relocated from all other parts of Fiji to Suva. What does this mean? It means it minimises the ability of their family members, it minimizes the ability of their children and other relatives to be able to be constantly in touch with family members who are incarcerated which again means that they have less support.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this would also help women who needed to still tend to their young children.

“We’ve had situations of women who have been incarcerated who have young children and in instances we’ve had babies who needed to be breastfed, so the ability for that to actually happen was very much minimised. We have been denying these women this fundamental right of theirs.

“Now this investment of Government is a small price to pay to ensure that we are able to fulfill the rights of these people because the reality is, ladies and gentlemen, no society in fact can be seen to be progressive, can be seen to be inclusive if we do not cater for those who are on the periphery of our society.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government was adamant that the rights of all Fijians was catered for and would work hard to make sure this is met.

“So even though a person may be convicted it does not mean we deny them their fundamental rights. Unfortunately, in Fiji, many people have talked about human rights and we see so many people talking on social media with absolutely no sense of what in a practical and tangible manner human rights mean. They are simply making comments without any understanding of it,” he said.

“From our perspective, human rights must have a very tangible and practical output and this is a manifestation of that practical implementation of the rights of the individuals who are incarcerated.

“When you treat a human being with a sense of dignity they will respond to you much better.

If you don’t treat them with dignity, if you do not give them their dignity, they will not respond to you, they will not actually listen to you.”

This facility has been built to comply with international standards.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was later taken on a tour of the new facility which included a new K9 unit, new staff quarters and some office buildings.

Commissioner of Correctional Services Commander Francis Kean said: “This is a huge achievement for the Correctional Services. This has been a long time coming. To have a second women’s correctional facility is such a huge step and help and we are so glad it has been opened today.”

Edited by Jyoti Pratibha

Feedback:  lusiana.banuve@fijisun.com.fj

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