Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Amnesty warns of Pacific prison crisis

Honiara's Rove prison gates 'solitary confinement' and poor conditions

The human rights group Amnesty International has warned that many Pacific region prisons are near crisis point.

The London-based organisation says some prisoners are being held in inhumane conditions as prisons face a lack of resources and ageing infrastructure. This comes after the Australian lawyer for Solomon Islands militant leader Jimmy 'Rasta' Lusibaea claimed his client was being held in 'solitary confinement' and poor conditions in Honiara's Rove prison.

Amnesty's Heinz Schurmann-Zeggel says Pacific governments must meet international standards in caring for prisoners. "When prisoners die, as has happened in Papua New Guinea apparently as a result of prison conditions, somebody must be accountable for this," he said.

"Governments are ultimately responsible but the situation since independence for many of these countries has deteriorated to such a state that we can almost call it a prison crisis in the South Pacific."

By Just Us 17 December 03