NATION

Prison Kitchen Used As Contraband Exchange Spot

  A hunger strike two weeks ago at a Corrections facility took place after Corrections officers banned inmates from using the kitchen. This after it was found that the kitchen was
27 Jan 2017 12:29
Prison Kitchen Used As  Contraband Exchange Spot
Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj (right), and his Northern Commissioner Selina Leewai discuss with Supervisor of Corrections for the Western Division, Superintendent Sakiusa Veiwili at the Natabua Correctional Facility in Lautoka yesterday. Photo: Charles Chambers

 

A hunger strike two weeks ago at a Corrections facility took place after Corrections officers banned inmates from using the kitchen.

This after it was found that the kitchen was where the trafficking of contrabands took place.

It was discovered that there had been an increased influx of contrabands, including mobile phones and illegal drugs through body cavities.

Prison authorities have had difficulties in finding these contrabands because they were wrapped in foil and inserted deep into the cavity.

It also raised concern of the effect it could have on inmates’ health

This was the findings of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (HRADC) after their visit to the Natabua Corrections Centre yesterday.

Commission director, Ashwin Raj was accompanied by his Northern Commissioner Selina Leewai during their investigations into the hunger strike by 30 inmates.

“We came to independently investigate an alleged incident of a hunger strike at the Natabua Corrections Facilities and it is important that the Commission ascertain exactly what transpired,” Mr Raj said.

“We wanted to look at some of the key concerns from the perspective of the facility too as it is not simply just the welfare of those incarcerated but appreciating and understanding the complexities in which the prison system operates.”

Mr Raj said the main reason for the hunger strike was the problem and prevalence of contrabands and the fact there were two different types of inmates – those convicted and those in remand.

“There is trafficking of contraband within the prison complex and the exchange usually takes place in the prison kitchen and what the Supervisor of Corrections for the Western Division, Superintendent Sakiusa Veiwili, did was deny inmates access to this,” Mr Raj said.

Mr Raj said he had queried with the Corrections officials on whether there was any instance where food was denied for the inmates who,went on hunger strike.

He was told that food was never stopped from being given to the inmates.

“Apparently, 30 inmates from one of the dorms decided to go on a hunger strike for 24 hours,” Mr Raj said.

“That was quickly addressed and everything went back to normal, but we thought it was important to personally come out here and have a look.

“We have also had the chance to talk to those inmates who had written to the Commission about their concerns.”

He said the other concern was the welfare of foreign nationals who were detained.

“We spoke to a Tunisian and he had concerns that he was a Muslim and he had some rights to worship and we had some discussions about that with the prison authorities.”

Mr Raj said the Tunisian was detained over immigration issues.

“There was also a need for him to get a legal counsel for him to file his affidavit and we also made a similar intervention a month ago with an Indian national.”

Meanwhile, Mr Raj said they were also visiting Lautoka and Nadi Police Stations and hospitals.

“We are auditing human rights and going out to the communities.

“We thank the Commissioner of Prisons for facilitating our visits and in the last five months we have made 32 visits to different correctional facilities.”

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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